Pretty much Liam Neeson being Liam Neeson but this time while wearing a parka!
Synopsis: COLD PURSUIT, an action thriller infused with irreverent humor [sees] Nels Coxman, a family man whose quiet life with his wife is upended following the mysterious death of their son. Nels’ search for justice turns into a vengeful hunt for Viking, a drug lord he believes is connected to the death. As one by one of Viking’s associates “disappear,” Nels goes from upstanding citizen to ice-cold vigilante, letting nothing — and no one — get in his way. (Elevation Pictures)
Starring: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, and Tom Jackson
Writer: Frank Baldwin
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Rating: R (United States)
Running Time: 118mins
Knowing what we know about Liam Neeson and all the promotional material for this film, Cold Pursuit was shaping up to be a frozen Taken. While this film did have its moments, that was not what we got here for the most part. The story was about a man named Nels Coxman (Neeson) whose quiet life gets turned upside down after the mysterious death of his son. From there, he would seek out revenge against those he believed to be responsible, setting his target on a man named Viking (Bateman). The film would start off decent enough but unfortunately over time, the story would eventually get off-track and could never quite recover.
If you like your action films more on the over-the-top side (where everybody gets a nickname for whatever reason), than this film may be for you but the problem with that the film could not sustain it. Though perhaps the story was not enough to sustain a feature film (Neeson could only inexplicably punch people in the face for so long), Coxman would almost disappear and simply become a character in another story, a much less interesting one for that matter. Revenge stories have existed in film since its inception. While it may not have been particularly deep here (which is an understatement), it still somewhat worked here until the film pretty much gave up on Coxman.
Coxman’s path of destruction would inadvertently start a turf war between Viking and a rival colony of Native American drug dealers, led by a man named White Bull (Jackson). From there, they would take up most of the focus as we would learn the inner workings of both organizations and the history between them. The problem with this was that this would be very dull to watch. With a running time of just under 2 hours, the film is already too long with these subplots being the biggest culprit. In addition to this, the story would try its hand at dark comedy and fail more often than not.
Despite everything else, Neeson’s performance as Coxman was the best part of the film. It just would have been nice to have seen more of him. He may not hit the right emotional notes though this was probably never the point here, he was still incredibly compelling to watch as he inexplicably had his way with any baddie who came his way. Bateman was okay while hamming it up as Viking while set against Jackson who was also okay as the strong, silent White Bull. Laura Dern also made an appearance as Coxman’s wife Grace but was wasted here.
Overall, Cold Pursuit was a bloated and convoluted action film that starts off decent enough before eventually getting off-track and never recovering. Some will surely enjoy the body count it leaves in its wake but the story leaves much to be desired besides a compelling enough turn from Liam Neeson as the lead who does what he does best, however, the film didn’t let him do nearly enough of it which at the end of the day is disappointing. Ultimately, those who enjoy seeing Liam Neeson punch people in the face will be treated to a good enough time. This will definitely be something to watch on TV on a lazy weekend evening.
*Cold Pursuit opens in theatres on February 8th*