Film Review: Neeson has revenge on his mind... yet again

Liam Neeson's latest movie, Cold Pursuit, is out nationwide on Friday February 22nd. Downtown film reviewer Cara O'Doherty gives it four stars.
Film Review: Neeson has revenge on his mind... yet again
Liam Neeson in Cold Pursuit

AH, Liam Neeson. Once the mild mannered Ballymena man, now one of acting’s most controversial figures thanks to a serious case of what I like to call foot in mouth disease. His recent, almost confessional interview, has lit a fire under him and his latest film is set to suffer because of it. Red carpets have been cancelled, press tours limited, and it’s yet to be seen if it will stop people from putting their bums on cinema seats. If you don’t know what I’m going on about, get on the Google machine and all will be revealed.

Funnily enough Neeson and revenge come hand in hand, in a cinematic sense. His last few films have all seen him play as a man with revenge on his mind. In the Taken franchise he has revenged his kidnapped daughter, and a murdered wife. He has revenged his son, a friend’s wife, and even his own mind when he was given amnesia.

Cold Pursuit is no different. Revenge is the main theme, but things play out a little differently than they normally do in a Neeson revenge flick.

Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a well known nice guy. He lives in a small town in Denver, a place where massive snowstorms are a part of daily life. He operates the local snow plow machine. He is so good at clearing the snow and keeping the roads open that he has just been awarded for his deeds and is named local person of the year.

Micheál Richardson, Neeson’s real life son, plays Kyle, Coxman’s only child. Kyle has been hanging around with the wrong crowd and becomes an innocent bystander to a big drug deal.

The cartel murder him, but henchmen make it look like Kyle has overdosed on heroin.

Coxman can’t accept that his son was involved in drugs, but his wife Grace (Laura Dern) is devastated because she believes they never truly knew the lad.

Tensions are fraught between the bereaved couple, and Grace leaves before she learns that Coxman is right. He learns that Kyle wasn’t a drug addict and goes after one of the cartel members to find out more about the killing. He batters him to a pulp, and gets him to confess the names of someone else who was involved.

Coxman decides to finish the job, kills the dealer, and with the help of his trusty snow plow, he dumps the body.

He begins to follow the trail of one dealer to another, killing each one he encounters and chucks their bodies into an ice filled ravine.

Big drug baddie Viking (Tom Bateman) gets a little annoyed when his dealers stop turning up for work. A misunderstanding leads him to think that a rival drug cartel are to blame and sets out to kill one of their members in revenge.

The rival gang are Native Americans and a bloody turf war begins between the two gangs.

Now, this is handy for Coxman because the two gangs are murdering each other and are saving him from getting his hands dirty.

As the body count grows the situation is made all the more complicated by a local police officer played by Emily Rossum who desperately wants to clean up her town.

This are also made difficult by the presence of Viking’s son, a smart young kid who takes a shine to Coxman after he sort of kidnaps him. It’s not as bad as it sounds, it’s for the child’s own good!

Anyone expecting the average Neeson action flick will be in for surprise. There is a heap of violence, but although Coxman does a lot of killing, it isn’t always hands on.

There are several inventive ways people die in this movie, all of them darkly funny.

As each person dies the screen turns black, their name and a symbol of their religious belief fills the screen. Again, it’s hard not to giggle at the audacity of it all.

This is a remake of a Nordic film, In Order of Disappearance, and has the look and feel of many of its Nordic cousins.

It’s dark humour is reminiscent of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, while the cinematography and brutality feels very much like Wind River.

Neeson is playing the same character he always plays in these revenge outings but with added subtlety. The box office will probably suffer because of Neeson’s recent conversation, it’s a pity because this is a pretty great film.

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