Frost on Film: Cold Pursuit

A Snow Cold Disaster

Cold Pursuit serves as the latest instalment in an ever-growing collection of Liam Neeson films containing a ‘hard as nails character’, often seeking revenge. Way back in 2008, Taken established this mould to brilliant avail, but it is gradually becoming predictable and unsatisfying.

Based on the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance, Cold Pursuit tells the story of Nels Coxman, a snowplough driver in the Colorado ski resort of Kehoe who goes in search of the drug gang responsible for the murder of his teenage son. Interestingly, Hans Petter Moland directed both the original and the American remake, but this has not proved to be the smartest of choices.

The black comedy ingrained within the Norwegian film worked within the context of Scandinavia, where such humour is more common. Yet in the context of America, this does not seem to be the case. There are innumerable examples where Moland tries to mix the sinister with the comical and it almost never works. A particular scene in a morgue is of note, where the Coxman’s have been brought in to positively identify their dead son. The affair should be traumatising, but the focus of the scene is upon the doctor, aggressively hammering at a pedal to raise the lifeless body up so that the parents can get a better look. It isn’t funny and it isn’t sad; Moland tries to mix the two together but, as a result, ends up with neither.

The opening half an hour is extremely disjointed as the camera jitters between Nels, the death of his son, gangsters and the police. It doesn’t take long for Nels to start a one-man crusade against the men responsible for his son’s demise, but strangely this kind of falls away. From the half way point, the focus shifts towards a drug war which begins to rampage. Because of this, no character is fleshed out enough, as they only adopt a portion, not the entirety of the story. Even with Nels, no depth is given to his character other than the fact that he is seeking revenge, is citizen of the year, and likes ploughing snow.

Bland characters cover Cold Pursuit like a thick layer of snow, but there is one character who verges upon the nonsensical. Grace Coxman, Nels’ wife is given hardly any dialogue which stupidly tends to be the case with ‘the wife’ figure in many movies. Yet with the talented Laura Dern inhabiting the role, this seems to be a massive oversight. And to add insult to injury, Grace is almost comical in her absurdity, as she gets angry at Nels for not knowing her son’s favourite film. She then leaves Nels, never to be seen again, with her departure given no real explanation beyond the fact that her son has died. What a waste.

However, you’d think at least the central drug kingpin would be reasonably foreboding and imperious. Well unfortunately this isn’t the case, as he is more man-child than stone cold killer. In one scene he punches a wall while searching for a gym bag which is merely one of many examples where Tom Bateman is overacting in the role of Trevor ‘Viking’ Calcote.

This leads on to another strange point in Cold Pursuit; the nicknames. Every single character bar Nels seems to have a nickname, from the rehashed ‘wingman’ to the bizarre ‘Santa’, ‘Viking’ and ‘Smoke’. Sometimes cool, these nicknames would have served better if they hadn’t been overused.

Tonally Cold Pursuit is all over the place. It tries to be funny, but a joke very rarely lands. Many decisions made seem to be random, like the random inclusion of a gay relationship between two bodyguards only for one to die in the next scene. It seems that it would have been better if In Order of Disappearance had been left alone as this is a remake that nobody needed.

Stefan Frost


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