Liam Neeson is now an expert at the revenge thriller. At least on screen. In real life, at a press junket for his latest movie COLD PURSUIT, he described a past situation where he actually did want revenge. One of his friends was raped and he suddenly had the desire to take justice in his own hands. But, as he described it, he asked what the man looked like. She didn’t know. Then he asked what color he was, and his friend told him Black. So he found himself walking up and down just wanting to kill someone, anyone, who was black. He told this story because he snapped out of it and realized how awful it was. And that he was wrong. However, it did not go over well, as you might imagine (to see more on the interview that went viral for all of the main reasons, click here). Press junkets were cancelled and his new movie underperformed this weekend. Hopefully, Liam Neeson the man can take this as a teachable moment, a learning lesson, and a way to understand how that moment, set 40 some years ago, was a moment of racism. That fact that he learned from it is great. But to fully move on is to acknowledge the moment of racism, and be better. I like Mr. Neeson. I think he seems like a good man overall, so I hope he learns from this and sees how troubling it was for us to hear it.


Liam Neeson the actor does indeed get revenge in his latest film, revenge for the murder of his son, and the film itself is surprising and well done. He plays a snow plow driver named Nels Coxman, who at the beginning of the film is accepting the Citizen of the Year from his small town of Kehoe, a fictional Colorado ski resort town. His son Kyle (Neeson’s real life son Micheal Richardson) is killed by a drug cartel over a some stolen cocaine, though we find out soon enough that Kyle was an innocent victim of it all. The cartel set it up so it look like Kyle overdosed. But Neeson smells a rat, knowing that his son was not a druggie. His wife (played by Laura Dern) simply breaks down and leaves him, never to be seen again. Which makes casting such a recognizable face to do almost nothing strange. So Neeson begins to track them down, one by one, exacting his revenge until he gets higher and higher up the ladder, the ladder held by the top boss, Trever “Viking” Calcote (Tom Bateman).


Based on the Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance, Director Hans Petter Moland readapts his original film using the Neeson model of the lumbering, late life action hero. But COLD PURSUIT plays much different than his Taken movies, or any of Neeson’s action films. It’s slow moving, the violent action often happens off screen, and it plays homage to slow moving Norwegian films, old Cowboy films, and the revenge film all at once. At the same time, it satirizes them, adding a good load of dark humor to offset you as you watch the film. Neeson is good here, and what I liked is that he’s not the unstoppable machine that he sometimes is. He gets winded. He often doesn’t know what he’s doing, simply that he has to find his son’s killer. And that change helps make COLD PURSUIT stand out. The supporting villain cast also has some strong support, especially Tom Bateman’s openly racist, psychopath head cartel boss, who is Patrick Bateman in the snow but also is rasing his son like a project (he gives him the novel "Lord of the Flies" as an instruction manual to be a man). Domenick Lombardozzi also has some very strong moments here and it’s nice that the middle of the movie follows other characters and then winds back to Coxman. There are missteps; it’s nice to see Native Americans as main characters and not make them caricatures, but perhaps a few lines and personality trates next time? Also, Emmy Rossum and John Doman are a nice, fun duo when we see them, but the fact that Rossum’s character has to use her sexuality to get information is just lazy.


All that being said, the film is a fun surprise. It’ll be interesting if Neeson can pull himself out of this self-made hole he gave with the bizarre interview and audiences will want to see him exacting revenge again, but we’ll see. Separate from his own troubles, COLD PURSUIT is well worth your time.



BASED ON THE FILM "IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE" WRITTEN BY Kim Fupz Aakeson SCREENPLAY BY Frank Baldwin DIRECTED BY Hans Petter Moland STARRING Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Domenick Lombardozzi, Nicholas Hines, Emmy Rossum, John Doman, Laura Dern, William Forsythe, Micheal Richardson. Now playing in cinemas.

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