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Monday, March 25, 2019


(Liam Neeson)

This is Taken on ice, with plenty of sub-Tarantinoesque humour mixed in. Review by Patrick Compton (7/10)

I went into this film cold, so to speak, but it soon became clear that we are expected to laugh as well as shudder at all the killings on display in this blackly comic revenge thriller.

Liam Neeson’s recent films have earned him a small fortune as a dad whose outrage fuels a violent vigilante campaign. And so it is here, although with one significant difference, namely that the action is not to be taken straight; we are, indeed, in Fargo, In Bruges and Pulp Fiction territory.

We first learn this when Nels Coxman (Neeson), a snowplough operator in a Colorado ski resort, identifies the body of his son in the morgue after an apparent heroin overdose. The police are callously willing to accept this at face value, but Coxman knows better.

Director Hans Petter Moland has adapted his Norwegian original, In Order of Disappearance, to the American milieu with plenty of bloody zest as he follows Coxman beating, killing and bludgeoning his way to the truth. After each death, usually accompanied by a sour joke, a credit flashes onto the screen, identifying the name of the character and the actor. By the end of the movie, the cast list has been well-nigh exhausted.

Coxman’s principal protagonist is a perpetually angry Denver crime boss, Viking (Tom Bateman), who, like Coxman, is a doting dad with a wife problem, although his (remarkably amiable) son is a youngster. Suffice it to say that Coxman has a lot of killing to do before he gets to grapple with the main man and his family.

The action takes place within a snow-covered mountain setting and cinematographer Philip Ogaard does a good job of providing us with some pretty wintry landscapes as a kind of relief from all the blood and gore.

Frank Baldwin’s script complicates the action by introducing a rival drug gang, this time of an American Indian persuasion. Led by a man (Tom Jackson) who’s also mourning a son, this group are presented as defending tribal land as well as seeking their own revenge.

There’s a wide range of characters – most with colourful nicknames – with some being killed for a reason and some for a laugh, while Coxman’s wife (a criminally underused Laura Dern) simply disappears, disgusted by her husband and in despair after the loss of her son.

All in all, Cold Pursuit is a chilly business, with the humour requiring a certain callousness on the part of the viewer to succeed. It’s a minor entertainment in pursuit of major havoc.

Cold Pursuit opened in Durban on March 22, 2019. – Patrick Compton