Liam Neeson’s back. He’s out for revenge and this time it’s… fictional. Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a snow plough driver and has just been awarded citizen of the year in the ski resort town of Kehoe, Colorado. Then one day Nels and his wife, Grace (Laura Dern) learn that their son has died of a heroin overdose. Grace is overcome with grief but Nels is convinced that there’s something darker going on and is determined to uncover the truth behind his son’s death. Armed only with a snow plough, a sawn-off shot gun and a relentless drive to do whatever it takes, Nils doesn’t have a particular set of skills but his quest soon takes him to exactly where he needs to be.
Based on the original Norwegian film, Kraftidioten (English title – In Order of Disappearance), Cold Pursuit is once again directed by Norwegian director Hans Peter Molland. The original movie was a big hit in Norway and so sure enough an American remake was in the works, and what a waste of time that was. Cold Pursuit is funniest if you’ve never seen anything Quentin Tarantino has ever written, never seen Fargo and never seen any of the revenge action movies that Liam Neeson has done in the past 10 years. Although the comedy spin is an original take on this Neeson subgenre, the movie suffers because of its associations and probably because the general public has already made better jokes about Neeson’s sudden career move into the action genre than there are in the movie. The movie also does a lot of things that the original already did so for those willing to read for two hours the remake is all but pointless.
The cast of quirky characters fleshed out by out of contextual conversations is amusing and unusual for the genre but, for audiences who have a wider knowledge of cinema, these kinds of scenes evoke the best of Tarantino and its snowy, sleepy town aesthetic constantly reminds them of Fargo – or rather it makes them wish they were watching that instead. Also, the dark, dry sense of humour and the array of quirky characters doesn’t really disguise the plot, or lack thereof. Even the little moments that bring a wry smile to the audience start to wear thin as they realise that they’re just watching the same thing that Neeson has been doing for quite a while now – just with added jokes.
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