When Kehoe citizen of the year, plow driver Nels Coxman’s (Liam Neeson) son (Micheál Richardson) is killed as collateral damage in a drug deal gone wrong, he decides to start working his way up the dealer’s corporate ladder. First he kills the thug who who kidnapped his son directly, then he uses the information from that kill to go up the Denver bad guy chain. (Kehoe, a fictional, snowed-in Colorado town, and Denver are connected solely by the long stretch of highway that Nels regularly keeps clear). He’s always been a quiet man but Nels’ rage and emptiness cause his wife (Laura Dern) to leave him, and eventually he runs out of low level creeps to take out and so enlists his brother Brock (William Forsyth) aka ‘Wingman’ to help him reach the top of the list, Trevor ‘viking’ Calcote (Tom Bateman). Viking’s crew blames the missing lieutenants on the work of rival gang of Native Americans led by White Bull (Tom Jackson) while local cops (Emmy Rossum and John Doman) start picking up clues third hand. Ultimately, Nels, the Viking crew, the cops, Native American gangsters, a hitman, and even Viking’s own young son are headed for collision.
The Production: 3.5/5
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Liam Neeson plays a guy who has had a family member killed or taken, and follows the bad guys to the ends of the earth to bring them to justice, or at least revenge. He’s got a particular set of skills, even if he is just an ordinary guy. He’ll even cross impassible snowy wilderness in pursuit of his targets. You’d be forgiven for assuming that Cold Pursuit follows the typical Liam revenge plot, but what we actually have is a lot more complicated, and in many ways more fun. Cold pursuit’s influences are just as much Oscar Wild and any of the Coen Brother’s oeuvre as much as they are “Taken, but in the snow”.
It’s more grimly funny than any of the taken series, and recounts how Nels ‘disappears’ those who have done him wrong. It’s also set up so that no matter who wins in the final confrontation, there’s sure to be blood all around.
And it got destroyed and quickly buried at the box office. First, well Neeson admitted some dark facts from his past that overshadowed the film. And the marketing couldn’t get past the obvious “Taken in snow” angle. And, well, it’s complicated to really tell audiences what the film is like without giving away too much.
But -I- liked it, despite it’s flaws. It’s no Taken. But it’s no Phantom Menace either. It’s got an intriguing structure, a bad guy you REALLY want to see get his due, a kid that know’s he’s in trouble and still worms his way into Nels’ and our hearts, and the best “F you I know you are gonna kill me so I’m gonna insult you until you do” scene since Walken vs. Hopper in True Romance.
I have questions. I have concerns. I see plot holes. And still I went with it and found it fun. I bet other HTFers will too.
3D Rating: NA
Shot on Arri Alexa in 2.8K, Cold Pursuit has been graded with a dark but filmic look. It’s relatively sharp and noise free, but it’s no demo material. This UHD has a Dolby Vision encode but minimal use of HDR, which is puzzling. I watched in in HDR10 via projector, so maybe that additional layer will be worth it to you who watch on OLED. There’s a lot of night shoots and they come across detailed and suitably gritty. Balancing these out are the wide vistas of frozen Colorado snowscapes and wonderfully composed shots of the plow trudging through deep snow banks with lines of traffic trailing. Again it looks suitable for the look they are going for.
I was also pleased with the wide and deep soundscape that this Atmos track brings. The score washes past the listening position with ease, and echoes into the rears realistically. There’s not as much action as you might expect until we get to the final act, but gunshots, heavy machinery, snow storms and other environmental sounds all flow wonderfully through out the room. Special shout out to George Fenton’s string heavy soundtrack, which is airy in places and gripping in others. I especially liked the mix of mandolin and theremin on tracks like the end credits and the ticking clock effect used in ‘Closing In’.
Special Features: 2.5/5
There’s a handful of extras here, mostly interview footage:
– Deleted scenes
– Interview with Liam Neeson
– Interview with director Hans Petter Moland
– Welcome to Kehoe – Behind the scenes.
All were enjoyable and worth the time.
Overall I have to admit Cold Pursuit was not what I was expecting, at all, and was way better for it. The noir influences and checklist structure kept me interested and the great soundtrack had me hooked. I dunno that I’d bite at Lionsgate’s ridiculous $43 list price, but this disk is a fun combination of revenge plot mixed with with wrong accusations amping up drama between deadly forces. It didn’t deserve to get the bum rush at the box office, even if Neeson’s admissions were way out there.