“Instead of a man of peace and love, I have become a man of violence and revenge.” -Hiawatha
Vengeance and Liam Neeson are becoming synonymous with one another after the countless films he has starred in where this simple idea is the general motivator for his characters; Taken trilogy, The Commuter, Non-Stop as examples. Cold Pursuit is a fun spin on the familiar Liam Neeson fare.
As it placates his fans with gratuitous violence the film takes the macabre nature of breaking someone’s face and then shooting them in the head somehow humorous. I know that sounds a bit psychotic but I promise it’s true, it made murder funny and I laughed. I’m feeling a bit out of sorts suddenly as I think about it. Man, movies can be really dark, huh? I may have laughed at it but someone else made the thing, what does that say about them? Eh, we’re all a little fucked in the head I think.
I must admit at first I was not on board with this movie simply for the choices made with editing. It left scenes at odd times, joined other moments that felt like scenes already in progress; it all felt jumbled and incoherent at times. Now either the style choices changed as the movie carried on or I became numb or impartial to the bizarre structure and pacing but eventually I was pulled in by everything that made this latest Neeson effort feel fresh and at times yes even out of place. Once a style of pacing and editing and theme are all established the movie really takes off becoming its own thing, eccentricities and all.
Liam Neeson is commanding of the screen as usual and he pursues unapologetically the foes who have wronged him as convincingly as ever. While his performance doesn’t exactly bring anything new to the table, it’s more about the combination of him being Liam “fucking” Neeson doing his Liam Neeson thing and placing him in peculiar, oddly comical situations that demand your laughter, even as people die en masse. A great strength to Cold Pursuit is that no single performance truly outshines the rest, it’s more of an equal opportunity tale as Neeson kicks ass, the villains carry out their evil deeds and the innocence of a small town is exploited in numerous ways and with a varying degree of, let’s call it, playful malevolence. Mass murder hasn’t been this funny in a while, what a joyous occasion!
Now let me clarify, this very much has moments of true horror in a dramatic sense as husband and wife identify their dead son, as a marriage disintegrates as a result, as grief paves way to blind vengeance. Much like blind loyalty is a romantic concept, reality shows it to be a mindless venture of placing the blame elsewhere; blind vengeance stems from commendable beginnings and quickly falls into pathetic and dangerous without any reward. This is unfortunately the wormhole that drags Neeson’s character down seemingly causing him to lose sight of the why to his abhorrent behavior. It goes from a feeling of his violent actions being personal therefore just, to moments of blind rage simply because he has found an alternate “road” beyond his normal routine of snow plowing. I think the idea is that revenge destroys everything it touches, in a variety of ways, even if only in spirit and reasoning. It doesn’t always have to physically alter something or someone.
I’ve seen some people complaining that the film isn’t what they thought it was going to be, sighting this as a reason to hate the film. I’ve never understood this take on stories taking a turn you didn’t anticipate. Don’t you want to be surprised? Don’t you appreciate when unexpected turns are taken, when characters test your loyalty? Going into a film wanting exactly what you expect it to be sounds hopelessly boring and seriously lacking in any kind of attempt at circumventing expectation for the purposes of entertainment and just plain ol’ surprise.
I love the idea of going in thinking I’m going to see one film only to be taken on a completely different kind of ride. And by this I don’t mean seeing a movie advertised as one thing and getting something wholly different, e.g. Drive. Cold Pursuit is a vengeance story absolutely but instead of staying morose and brooding it makes light of the darker themes adding elements that are unsettling but rarely without a sense of frivolity. Cold Pursuit is Taken with a smile. It is a fun, fresh approach (despite it being a remake) to a familiar concept and is all the more memorable because of it.
Rated R For: strong violence, drug material, and some language including sexual references
Runtime: 118 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
Starring: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Emmy Rossum, Tom Jackson
Directed By: Hans Petter Moland
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 3.5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: Yes
Check out the trailer below:
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