It’s pretty hard to talk about Cold Pursuit without mentioning Liam Neeson, and his controversial comments made in the press tour for the film about his racist actions in the past. But that said there is also a strange darkly comic revenge crime film to be talked about, and that is what we focus on here at Shuggie Says, so let’s get into the film.
The film, directed by Hans Petter Moland, is a remake of Moland’s own 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten). Cold Pursuit is a slightly bizarre mix of a gritty revenge drama, and a weird Martin McDonagh-esq dark comedy on the vein of a Seven Psychopaths. And there’s a lot of really fun stuff in Cold Pursuit, but it just never really commits to one tone or another, which leaves it feeling rather jarring.
As a dark comedy there are plenty of great humorous moments, not big laugh out loud scenes, but dry and darkly funny. But it isn’t always clear where the humour is intended to be. And some of the more overt jokes are pretty poor, particularly a TripAdvisor gag that has been played in the trailers. Meanwhile as a revenge drama there are plenty of good gritty moments involving Liam Neeson taking out various members of the gang he’s seeking revenge on. Obviously it all ends in a chaotic over the top violent shootout, one that ranges from pretty fun to completely ludicrous.
Neeson is solid in the film, he’s mostly a pretty cold character, but the scene where he learns the truth about his son’s death he really gets to shine for the first time in quite a few year. Laura Dern playing his wife however is completely wasted in the film. As one of the big names attached to it you would have thought she’d get a decent amount to do, instead she gets a handful of scenes before just disappearing from the film completely. It really is such a waste of an incredible actress.
Tom Bateman who plays the gang leader, Viking manages to be every bit as slimy and unpleasant as you’d want the antagonist to be. He’s a character that is designed to be unlikeable, so you know that in a world of criminals he’s the one you root against. The rest of the character are rounded out by a number of different members of Viking’s gang and their rivals. Most of the actors manage to bring something unique and charming to their character and are probably the highlights of the film.
It’s a shame that Cold Pursuit just never really meshes, maybe someone like a Tarantino or a McDonagh would have been able to steer it to have more clarity in its vision, but it is an enjoyable enough ride.