Monday, February 25, 2019

Cold Pursuit – a stylish remake of a testosterone-charged tale of snowy carnage as revenge is served up cold

Taking his previous Norwegian film Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance) out of cold storage and resetting it in Colorado, director Hans Petter Moland has created a pastiche that mixes Liam Neeson’s role in Taken with deathly goings-on familiar from black comedy Fargo. Yet the snow sculpture he builds in Cold Pursuit is neither tense nor scary and fails to be consistently laugh-out-loud funny, creating an icy mush that shows off the locations and some individual performances more than the script or the plot.

When his son is found dead from a heroin overdose, Kehoe’s newly honoured citizen-of-the-year Nels Coxman (Neeson) turns into a vigilante, hacking his way through the criminal network until he reaches the top. Along the way he triggers a feud between rival drugs gangs and the body count rises high enough to dam a river.
“Your mother’s womb must be twitching in regret at bringing you into the world”

The glassy modern architecture of the lead villain Viking’s home office could win House of the Year, and along with the snowy landscapes that Neeson drives through in his snowplough, they alone are nearly worth the price of the cinema ticket.

Cold Pursuit oozes style. Listen out for the sound of teeth bouncing off the ground in the first fistful of deaths, and the personalised jaunty jingle that accompanies each interstitial death notice. However, murderous Viking’s fastidiousness about diet and grammar is contradictory rather than comical, and together with the misogyny, racist attitudes, juvenile jokes about Nels’ surname, mistaken identity and the needless hiring of an unethical assassin fail to warm this reviewer’s heart.

Viking’s bald enforcer played by Domenick Lombardozzi develops into an interesting character, though his repression is so complete he never emotes. Other than a single scene of emasculation – hats off to than Julia Jones playing Viking’s ex-wife Aya – the testosterone -charged cast are allowed to play at being gangsters without female supervision in their ice-cold playground.

While the Coxman parents question how well they knew their son, the audience quickly realise that no one should underestimate how revenge could drive a grieving father to less-than-public-spirited behaviour. (Nor should anyone underestimate the destructive effect on a community of the police failing to question why a dead man’s face had gaffer tape adhesive on it and his car wasn’t anywhere near his place of death.)

Cold Pursuit is still playing in many local cinemas.

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