If one of your henchmen is called Speedo then you know it’s time to get that birch branch out and start thrashing the screenwriter.
There is something inherently stilted about the latest Liam Neeson action thriller that boils down to boredom. He needs to stop letting people convince him these films are a good idea. As an actor he retains a distinctive look and buckets of on-screen presence who is wasted in poorly plotted revenge dramas. Ever since Taken with the rare exception Neeson has been pressganged into doing sub-standard film fare for a pay cheque.
On this occasion he plays Nels Coxman, an everyman archetype who is solely responsible for keeping a road open using his snow plough. His wife portrayed by Laura Dern is given a thankless and vastly underwritten role which allows her very little scope for dramatic impact. He is considered trustworthy, reliable and honest meaning when Coxman goes off the chain no one bats an eyelid.
After they lose their son through a misunderstanding and mistaken identity, Neeson is given free rein to bring home the hurt. Oddly just when things should be ramping up a gear, Cold Pursuit slows down. Rather than using days to time stamp events we get chapters which are bookended by the name of his latest victim. Neeson dispatches them like so much deadwood and never seems under threat of being discovered or remorseful for his actions. His wife Grace does the decent thing and leaves as she can see his pent up grief is pushing them apart, while Coxman continues slaying the wrongdoers before dumping them in perpetual snow drifts.
Meanwhile the villain is so two-dimensional that he fails to earn pantomime status seeing as he is unable to stop a man well into pension age. Emotional turmoil and cold blooded revenge might get you so far, but honestly Cold Pursuit is so stupefying in its implausibility that disbelief turns into indifference very quickly. Only little character moments created by Dern are worth salvaging here as both actors know they have done so much better than this drivel. If one of your henchmen is called Speedo then you know it’s time to get that birch branch out and start thrashing the screenwriter. Clearly written by someone just out of a medically induced coma, Cold Pursuit is a good argument for euthanasia, as at least with that you know there will be a satisfying conclusion.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Hans Petter Moland
Written by: Frank Baldwin
Starring: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman, Laura Dern
Cold Pursuit is on Digital from June 17 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and Steelbook from June 24, 2019.