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MOVIE REVIEW

Cold Pursuit

also known as “Dermesztő hajsza,” “Hard Powder,” “Karstas kraujas,” “Sang froid,” “Un uomo tranquillo,” “Venganza bajo cero,” “Vingança a Sangue Frio,” “Vingança Perfeita,” «Снегоуборщик», «Студено отмъщение»
MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for strong violence, drug material, and some language including sexual references.

Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Thriller Remake
Length:
1 hr. 58 min.
Year of Release:
2019
USA Release:
February 8, 2019 (wide—2,630 theaters)
DVD: May 14, 2019
Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films

Seeking personal REVENGE

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Drug dealers

Murder

Loss of a son

Justice

Justice of God

Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films
Featuring: Liam NeesonNels Coxman
Laura DernGrace Coxman
Emmy RossumDetective
Tom BatemanViking
Julia Jones
Domenick LombardozziMustang
William ForsytheBrock “Wingman” Coxman
Elysia RotaruDiner Waitress
John DomanGip
See all »
Director: Hans Petter Moland
Producer: Paradox Films [England]
StudioCanal [England]
See all »
Distributor: Distributor: Summit Entertainment. Trademark logo.
Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Films

A man of very few words, Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is “The Citizen of the Year.” He has a simple job and does it well: keeping the roads open in a remote community in the mountains of Colorado. Day in and day out, he drives his snowplow up and down the main highways and through the small town. Cars pile up behind him, eager to get home, and he makes sure they get there.

Then, his entire life changes. The police find his son dead of an overdose. Except, Nels knows his son never did drugs.

Nobody will listen, so Nels decides to take matters into his own hands. He tracks down a “bad guy” who can tell him who killed his son. Then, he kills this person, wraps him in chicken wire (so “the fish can get at him, and he won’t float to the surface”) and chucks him over a waterfall to sleep in the frozen deep. Man by man, Nels gets closer to the truth.

Problem is, the man who ordered the hit is Trevor Calcote (Tom Bateman), a local drug lord involved in fierce arguments with his ex-wife over the custody of their child. It never occurs to him to suspect a nobody like Nels, so he assumes a rival Native Indian drug gang is behind it, leading to a bloodbath with surprising consequences.

This film is rife with morbid humor and good performances. I did not “enjoy” seeing Neeson deviate from his usual good guy role to play a man entirely devoted to blind revenge, but he makes Nels a frightening but likable character. Bateman is so utterly despicable as Calcote that it’s hard not to root for his downfall. Laura Dern has a cameo as Nels’ long-suffering wife, while Emmy Rossum plays a local cop disgusted with her boss’ lackluster attitude toward catching criminals. (He on the other hand is repulsed by her “using” a Denver cop to get information.)

The film establishes the offbeat dark comedy immediately, with its choice of a peppy opening song. The director makes the aftermath of the various murders funny, which somewhat detracts from the fact that Nels is not only a bereft father, he never once considers reaching out to the law or “going straight” in his quest for revenge. He mercilessly tracks down, beats to a pulp, and kills anyone involved in his son’s death, making him not much better than Calcote, who uses similar tactics (but shows disgust at someone double-dealing his customer).

The violence is not extremely graphic but can be cringe-inducing. Among other things, we see people shot in the head, punched repeatedly into a bloody pulp, strung up across road signs as a warning, battered by gunfire, bodies chucked off cliffs, and sucked under a snowplow. A severed head is tossed around and shows up in a box as a “gift.”

A man tries to punch his wife, and she squeezes his crotch until he calls uncle. Calcote has a profane mouth, and makes various crass, sexually suggestive remarks to his ex-wife. Two of his henchmen are Gay and share loving looks and a passionate kiss in a van; they talk about vacationing together. Elsewhere, a man tells another man how he gets motel maids to sleep with him, by posing naked on the bed when they come to change the sheets, a $20 over his privates. (He later tries this, and it does not turn out how he planned; there’s no explicit nudity.) Various people make fun of Nels’ last name (Coxman).

There are f-words (2), half a dozen s-words, and a dozen abuses of God/Jesus’ name (6 times with “god” being paired with a profanity). A person flips someone else off.

Other content includes a shot of a dog defecating, and a lot of racial slurs against Native Americans (used by the villains).

I have not seen the original film upon which this remake is based, nor do I want to. I should have researched more carefully before I rented it, since I assumed it would be in the same vein as Neeson’s earlier “Taken” franchise. I am used to him playing the tough, no-nonsense “Protector,” and here he’s reduced to a revenge-killer who feels no remorse for his actions, and never pays for his crimes.

  • Violence: Very Heavy
  • Profane language: Heavy— • “J*sus Chr*st” (2) • “Oh J*sus” • “G*d d*mn” (8) • “G*d” (2) • “H*ll” (5)
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Heavy
  • Sex: Moderately Heavy
  • Nudity: Mild
  • Occult: None

This movie is based on the 2014 Norwegian film “In Order of Disappearance.”

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Secular Movie Critics
…clumsy remake… The stupidity lacks smarts in the script department, and the joke, such as it is, wears thin, then turns sour. …
Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
…at the end of the day “Cold Pursuit” feels like a case of cinematic bait and switch. It may present itself as a Neeson action vehicle, but it’s actually a classically Scandinavian exercise in the blackest of black humor, a nihilistic work that has more in common with art-house successes like “Under the Tree” and “Rams” than a brawny blockbuster. …
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
…soulless… Liam Neeson blows snow, while movie itself just blows chunks… “Cold Pursuit” has enough of its own facetiousness for a dozen jokey Tarantino-knockoff carnage festivals. …
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…It all feels arbitrary and aimless…
Barry Hertz, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
…an excellent film. …satirical caper… stark and refreshing, like taking an icy swim with the Polar Bear Club. A jolt. …the story cleverly subverts your expectations every snowy step of the way. …
Johnny Oleksinski, New York Post
…“Cold Pursuit” is “Taken” in the winter, but with a meaner streak of laughs… Flaws and all, “Cold Pursuit” is a gleefully violent good time. Moland’s movie is silly but sharp, with barbs drawing blood despite a story that we’ve seen before. …
Kimber Myers, The Playlist
…In the crisp winter air, Liam Neeson makes revenge a riot… brutally funny… “Cold Pursuit” is one fantastically hot mess of a movie. [3½]
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
…As the corpses pile up on every side of the law, it reminds me more of those nasty, sometimes laughable Charles Bronson genre vehicles from the 1980s, buried under 50 feet of snow. …
Rex Reed, The New York Observer
…The script has a wry sense of humor but is almost never laugh-out-loud funny, and the gory substance of the plot regularly overwhelms the delicate notes of parody. …
David Sims, The Atlantic