FACEOFF: Liam Neeson’s character, snowplow driver Nels, faces off against Tom Bateman’s drug lord, Viking, in Cold Pursuit.

Cold Pursuit

  • Action-comedy; Cert R16, contains violence, suicide themes, sexual references and offensive language; 1hr 59mins
  • Starring: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, William Forsythe, Tom Bateman, Julia Jones, David O’Hara and Tom Jackson
  • Director: Hans Petter Moland

NORWEGIAN director Hans Petter Moland makes his Hollywood debut with this remake of his 2014 black comedy In the Order of Disappearance.

So, although Cold Pursuit has been dressed up to look like your standard template Liam Neeson revenge thriller, it brings much of that Scandinavian dark humour with it.

The result is something reminiscent of a Coen brothers or Tarantino film without the stylistic flourishes.

Neeson plays stand-up citizen Nelson “Nels” Coxman, whose quiet life as a snowplow driver in the Rocky Mountains ski resort of Kehoe, Colorado is shattered when his son, Kyle, is found dead of a heroin overdose.

Nels becomes depressed at first, then turns vigilante when he learns his son was murdered.

He tracks down the killers, but before murdering them, he learns that Kyle had been targeted by a drug cartel. He sets about murdering his way up the Cartel’s food chain, which has a man named Viking at its head.

Tom Bateman (Murder on the Orient Express) plays the kingpin, who comes across as more of an obnoxiously pedantic creep than a scary psychopath.

Unaware of Nels’ crusade, he blames his men’s deaths on a rival cartel run by the indigenous Ute tribe and takes out the boss’ son, resulting in an all-out drug war, with Nels at the centre of the action.

Neeson has only to play true to type as the deadpan straight guy around which the film’s gallows comedy plays out.

Emily Rossum (Shameless) brightens up the whole film as Kim, an over-eager young small-town detective, with John Doman (The Wire) as her foil, nearing-retirement partner Gip.

The trail of death intensifies as Nels gets closer to Viking climaxing in a final showdown set against stunning scenery, with the Elk Valley area of British Columbia standing in for Colorado.

Moland worked with Norway’s premier cinematographer Philip Ogaard, who makes the most of the gorgeous surroundings.

7/10

diane.mccarthy@thebeacon.co.nz