Nels Coxman ( Liam Neeson ) is a plough driver in the snowy, mountain town of Kehoe, a stone’s throw from Denver, Colorado. He sets off on a spree of vengeance, killing the drug mafia that murders his young son.
This unusual satire on gangsters and revenge stories, starts off with a quote from Oscar Wilde and some delightful background music that sets the tone for rest of the film. The first few minutes play out like a predictable thriller, featuring a wronged father and his pursuit for vigilante justice. But, what follows is a series of stylised killing sequences, that almost seem like parodies of action set pieces that you’ve seen Liam Neeson pulling off with deadpan ease in the past. Yet, director Hans Petter Noland, who also made the Norwegian film In Order Of Disappearance that inspired Cold Pursuit , and writer Frank Baldwin create a refreshing narrative full of memorable moments. The movie seems bizarrely funny and the snow-heavy setting creates the right atmosphere for the dry and cold-cut humour.
The story begins with tragedy and the first few minutes seem dead serious, right up to the point where Coxman confronts his first victim, the gangster named Speedo. But, as the revenge-seeking father moves up the ranks of the mafia chain, the characters become quirky and the situations get thoroughly entertaining. The introduction of characters like Viking (Tom Bateman), the main antagonist and his team of crazy henchmen like Mustang, Dexter and more, alleviates the narrative. There’s also a track of warring mafia gangs as Viking wages a war against the native Indians led by White Bull (Tom Jackson). Cold Pursuit may not be too creative with the kill sequences, but it does get interesting with the wry sense of humour.
Neeson does what he does best. He keeps a straight face and plays the game of intimidation with ease. He’s just a regular guy who’s way out of his league, killing gangsters. But, his outrageous mission is what makes the story interesting. Watch out for a superb cameo by William Forsythe, too, who plays a brief but key role in Coxman’s revenge saga.
The way Cold Pursuit manages to blend sardonic humour with cold-blooded killings makes it reminiscent of movies like The Coen Brothers’ Fargo and Guy Ritchie’s Snatch. This one’s a refreshingly cool black-comedy that does wonders for the genre.