Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
Seeking personal REVENGE
Loss of a son
Liam Neeson … Nels Coxman
Laura Dern … Grace Coxman
Emmy Rossum … Detective
Tom Bateman … Viking
Julia Jones …
Domenick Lombardozzi … Mustang
William Forsythe … Brock “Wingman” Coxman
Elysia Rotaru … Diner Waitress
John Doman … Gip
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|Director:||Hans Petter Moland|
|Producer:||Paradox Films [England]
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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.
This movie is based on the 2014 Norwegian film “In Order of Disappearance.”
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.