Liam Neeson is a man with a particular set of skills, but lately those skills seem to be relegated to starring in virtually the same movie over and over again and making confessions to journalists more suited to a therapist’s couch.
In Cold Pursuit (or as I like to call it, Taken on Ice) Neeson plays Nels Coxman (named so that one limp joke can be made) a snowplow driver in the remote ski town of Kehoe, Colorado.
The snow there is six feet high and the bored local cops spend their days handing out parking tickets. It’s a steady, simple life that Coxman loves, until his son is murdered.
While the police write off the death as a heroin overdose, the grief-stricken father knows in his bones his son wasn’t a druggy and begins to hunt down the men responsible.
One by one he kills low-level drug dealers, moving up the ladder to the top of the local drug gang. This gang is headed by a man known only as Viking (played by Tom Bateman) a character so over-the-top he makes American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman seem like a chill guy. This is a man who gives his 10-year-old son a copy of Lord of the Flies as a guide to life, and puts him on an all steak and asparagus diet. If that’s not enough, he’s a particularly cruel and intense racist and misogynist!
When Viking’s dealers start disappearing he believes it’s a rival Native American drug gang. This gives him and his men the opportunity to use every slur imaginable towards Native Americans in a non-stop barrage of vile and hate-filled quips.
In the end, Coxman’s hunt for vengeance ends in a giant shoot out where almost everyone dies – just like all good hunts for vengeance should!
The truth is, Liam Neeson is good in this movie – he’s got the role of father who will stop at nothing for his child down at this point. It’s when the movie isn’t focused on him it most obviously falls apart.
The film aims for dark humour but falls short – observations of pretentious and pointless character quirks are not the same as jokes, and leave viewers wondering why they had to be pointed out in the first place.
Cold Pursuit is a paint-by-numbers, shoot ‘em up, revenge thriller you’ve seen a million times (at least five times with Liam Neeson) that offers nothing new – except a snow plow.
Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia