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Dad gets mad

Saturday, February 09, 2019
By Deepa Gahlot

Cold Pursuit
Director:
Hans Petter Moland
Cast: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson and others
Rating: * * *

If the plot of Cold Pursuit were to be summarized, it’s about a father avenging the murder of his son—it’s been done to death in the movies.

Still, Hans Petter Moland, remaking his own Norwegian film, In Order of Disappearance, gives it a blend of stoicism and wit that is reminiscent of the films of the Coen Brothers and Quentin Tarantino. The violence is disturbing, and the cheekiness of inserting cards with the names of the dead is insensitive; but then they are criminal lowlifes, who deserve what’s coming to them.

Liam Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a laconic snow plow driver and not much time is wasted in getting him started on his killing spree. His son Kyle (Micheál Richardson, Neeson’s real-life son) is found dead, his wife (Laura Dern in a thankless two-scene role) leaves; he finds out that the men who killed Kyle were the henchman (with names like Speedo and Limbo) of drug dealer Trevor ‘Viking’ Calcote (Tom Bateman), so he kills them, tosses their bodies into a gorge, and makes plans to go after Viking.

Viking is an eccentric health-freak, who feeds his son Ryan (Nicholas Holmes) bland food and encourages him to beat up a school bully. He has his own rivalry going with a gang of Native Americans led by White Bull (Tom Jackson). New female cop in town, Kim Dash (Emmy Rossum) enjoys the idea of the gangs killing off each other and cleaning up Kehoe, while her old partner (John Doman) would rather stay out of the way when the bloodbath starts—and it does, with Coxman triggering it off.

In this testosterone soaked world, women have no place, but Viking’s ex-wife (Julia Jones stands up to him) and Coxman’s domineering oriental sister-in-law (Elizabeth Thai) has a couple of funny scenes.

In the bleak, snow-covered landscape, humour comes in unexpected ways, like Ryan’s eyes lighting up at the sight of junk food, and Kim dragging information out of a smitten colleague. Without the comic touches, the film would have been a routine Dad-goes-on-a-rampage revenge thriller. Even Neeson has done this kind of thing a few times before. That he and the director still make it watchable is commendable.

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