It’s not often that you come across a film that takes a genre and does something completely fresh with it. And that’s exactly what we get with Cold Pursuit, a thoroughly original crime film that provides plenty of twists and turns for its audience.
Nels Coxman’s (Liam Neeson) quiet life as a snowplow driver in a glitzy Rocky Mountains resort town where he was just awarded Citizen of the Year is disrupted when his beloved son is murdered under mysterious circumstances. His search for the cause turns into a quest for revenge against a psychotic drug lord named Viking (Tom Bateman). Using his hunting skills to transform himself from upstanding citizen to cold-blooded vigilante, Coxman sets out to dismantle the cartel, triggering a chain of events leading to a turf war between Viking and a rival boss.
Adapted from the Norwegian film In Order Of Disappearance, director Hans Petter Moland, re-adapts his own work here in Cold Pursuit and he gets to bring his own unique style to a Hollywood production, and it produces some very interesting results. With a narrative that is best described as thoroughly eccentric, Moland crafts a new twist on the crime genre while going against type with his story and filling it out with plenty of left turns that completely zig the other way. It’s easy to say that you’ll never see what’s coming around the bend in Cold Pursuit, and the film’s eccentricity leads to plenty of hilarious gags and off-beat situations that serve the narrative and completely take the audience by surprise.
Everything in Cold Pursuit is different, from the flavour of its characters to its unique snowfilled landscape of the Rocky Mountains, and all of it leads to a thoroughly unique crime film experience. The location really plays a part here and cinematographer Philip Øgaard captures the frozen landscape beautifully. Moland really likes a twist and he packs his film full of them and the result is something very unique that really keeps his audience guessing.
In terms of a central lead actor Moland finds himself with Hollywood’s resident revenge star Liam Neeson and here the noted action star goes in a whole opposite direction. Played as a complete everyman, Neeson’s Nels Coxman gets into the revenge business after losing his son and the results are both savage and hilarious at the same time. His approach to retribution has a real paint by numbers quality to it and as the bodies stack up he really starts to feel better about himself. I really enjoyed seeing Neeson take on a different path here and his deadpan style to delivering his own form of justice makes for an amusing watch.
Facing down Neeson here is Tom Bateman as the psychotic drug dealer Viking, and he really brings something different to the film. Disguising himself as an affluent playboy, Bateman’s performance as Viking is definitely unconventional and his obsessive tendencies and rampant personal problems exhibit themselves through a boiling rage that he levels upon anyone who he believes has crossed him. He’s a great foil for Neeson and I really enjoyed how far he went as Viking because you just don’t know what this guy is going to do next, and that creates the ideal space for a crazed villain.
Cold Pursuit is a film that really explores the unexpected here and that includes its bold action sequences. As Neeson’s Nels unleashes his vendetta against Viking the bodies quickly pile up and the way in which he delivers justice gets really wild very quickly. While I can’t give much away without leading into spoiler territory I will say that Nels occupation as a snowplower does come into play here and let’s just say that things do get very gnarly in the Rocky Mountains.
If you’re seeking a crime thriller with a difference then Cold Pursuit is a great choice. You never see what’s coming next and Neeson proves that he’s still the man for the job when the bad guys need to be taken out.
Image: Studio Canal