It’s an odd feeling to have a potentially career-ending story about Liam Neeson hit the headlines hours before seeing his latest film. It’s even stranger to digest when that film is a darkly comic and, honestly, really fun thriller.
Under any other circumstances that would be par for the course, because if there’s one unforgivable sin for a Liam Neeson film called Cold Pursuit with the tagline “Revenge is best served cold”, it’s being boring. Cold Pursuit is never in danger of hitting that territory; it’s impossible when your lead is a man so deadpan and serious everything he says is automatically a little bit hilarious.
Director Hans Petter Moland (remaking his own film In Order of Disappearance) plays Neeson’s crusade for laughs, barely touching on the emotional trauma of losing his son. Likewise, when Neeson kills his targets there’s no catharsis, just an opportunity for light comedy.
That’s not to say there’s no emotion in the film. Very little about any scene is conventional, but the core emotions still cut through in broad, blunt brushstrokes. Screenwriter Frank Baldwin’s approach is to throw everything he can at this story and see what sticks. Sometimes that means the drug kingpin Viking (Tom Bateman), who reads like a cross between Patrick Bateman and a tech billionaire and threatens to steal every scene he’s in; other times it means borderline offensive racial stereotypes and romantic relationships played as plot twists.
It’s risky to call anything Coenesque, but at times Cold Pursuit comes close, delivering dark and hilarious comedy with a dose of action on the side. There are misfires along the way, but Moland packs so much in that it’s easy to forgive and forget the rough patches.
CAST: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Laura Dern, Domenick Lombardozzi, William Forsythe
DIRECTOR: Hans Petter Moland
WRITERS: Frank Baldwin (screenplay by), Kim Fupz Aakeson (based on the movie Kraftidioten written by)
SYNOPSIS: A snowplow driver seeks revenge against the drug dealers he thinks killed his son.