Oh, to be Liam Neeson’s PR team. The actor proved himself to be a bit of a PR nightmare in the past few weeks, with the media swarming the story and circling like the vultures they are.
While I certainly don’t condone Neeson’s words, all of that bears no effect on this film or my review of it, I don’t think he’s a bad man, he said the wrong thing, obviously, but I’m merely interested in films, there are only a few people whose films I refuse to watch because of their outside activity, and I don’t think what Neeson said deserves the discrediting of his career.
So, with that out of the way, let’s get on with the review.
In the snowy landscape of Kehoe, Colorado, Nelson Coxman’s world is turned upside down when his Son is murdered by a vicious drug gang, this sets him on a path to revenge, which, inadvertently, sparks off a turf war.
I’m not sure whether this film will ultimately be remembered for the quality of the film, or Neeson’s comments to the press, I am leaning towards the latter, as while the film flirts with fresh ideas, it suffers an identity crisis and ends up being painfully generic.
The aesthetic of the snowy ski resort is a nice touch, if a little too close to Fargo, in fact, while I’m on the subject of Fargo, the female police officer bears an uncanny resemblance to Frances McDormand’s character in some scenes. Whether this is purely coincidental or a knowing homage, I couldn’t say, but I theorize that it’s more likely the latter.
Which brings me nicely round to the characters of the story, the cast is densely packed, yet unfocused, by juggling so many names it loses a certain edge to its characters, to the point where they all start blending into one. The respective drug gangs are good examples of this, as they was very rarely a distinguishing feature to each character, and even when there was in one particular case, there was no reason or pay-off to the proposed side-plot, it was just there for the sake of being there.
That last sentence could actually sum up a fair amount of the film, it’s overly-stuffed with needless faff and nonsense, when it could be driving home key plot points. The end product is a film that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, sometimes it flirts with knowing humour, only to drop that to quickly become a po-faced gangster drama a few minutes later, it’s almost as if the screenplay was written by two people who didn’t talk to each other, and an editor had to work out a way of blending two completely different scripts, and it just ends up being a mess.
That being said, however, it does have some nice ideas. There’s a nice recurring motif of the people killed in the story getting named after they’re killed with an on-screen graphic, which works nicely, and the police intrigue teased throughout could have been interesting, but it remains unexplored, to the point where it makes you wonder what the point of using these characters was.
The performances in the film are another unremarkable aspect. Liam Neeson appears to sleepwalk through a familiar feeling role for him, he gives the impression of being tired of this kind of thing. Laura Dern is barely used and has disappeared from the story by the time an hour has passed, and the various gangsters and henchmen all blend into one gelatinous mass of uninteresting stereotypes.
The characters are also widely inconsistent, and all of them incredibly unlikable, even Neeson, which is a feat in itself. There’s a rather jarring plot point towards the end of the film where a child is kidnapped and it’s so widely out of character that it makes you question everything about the film up to that point.
Overall then, besides being stylish and having a few nice ideas, the film is over-long and under-ambitious, using a nice aesthetic to draw you in, before telling a story we’ve seen done a million times, and much better executed. I can’t really find much to recommend Cold Pursuit, unless seeing Liam Neeson is all you need in a film, I would say there’s much better versions of this narrative out there, some of them even star Liam Neeson. I guess what I’m saying is, save your money, and watch Taken while imagining it’s snowing, then you’d have had the overall experience.