Hans Petter Moland’s Cold Pursuit reminds all of us why we are so into Liam Neeson as an action hero. It’s not that he has some fantastic physique or blows the audience away with his charm. Neeson’s characters come off as someone who could easily be your next door neighbor. Someone you’d see a few times a week outside as he mowed his lawn. He’s that person on the block who is unassuming but also possesses a specific set of skills which make him a nightmare for those who bring terror upon the populous. The sixty-six-year-old actor has morphed into the Irish John Mclane minus a love of automatic weapons.
Frank Baldwin’s narrative for the film could have been far less complicated than what we ended up with. The storyline that anyone truly cared about was how Nels Coxman (Neeson) was going to seek revenge on Viking (Tom Bateman) – a drug dealer who had his son killed. Had Cold Pursuit just focused on what mattered the most, we would have had a leaner film, and the pacing wouldn’t have been problematic. Instead, we are subjected to a storyline where Viking is in a turf war with a local Native American gang over some land rights which ultimately seems out of place in the film.
Philip Øgaard’s cinematography attempted to capture the winter splendor of their surroundings but managed only to emphasize the bleakness of their harsh winter. Performance wise Neeson delivers the same type of performance we’ve seen in any number of his latest action releases. While he’s certainly consistent, there’s nothing we saw which would blow anyone away. Laura Dern plays his wife and is in the film for such short amount of time that it’s a wonder she wasn’t just credited with a cameo. What Cold Pursuit lacks in an emotional arc, it makes up with some creative action sequences.
Overall, the film isn’t going to score well with critics, but any audience craving escapism will adore it. Sometimes our need to be entertained includes watching the good guy use some random timber to enact revenge.