Cold Pursuit (aka In Order of Disappearance) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Liam Neeson’s angry dad action pictures seem to grow more chaotic by the forgettable titles. Cold Pursuit, thankfully, takes a small step back from his more brazen and action-packed of his thriller outings. Perhaps it seems that way because there’s no scene of him brandishing a blunt weapon like a flaming piece of wood or a guitar to battle his attackers. He does still use construction equipment to send a tree smashing through a car so some of the craziness hasn’t left. In fact, a lot of the zing hasn’t left for a story about messy crimes in a ski resort in Kehoe, Colorado.
Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a snowblower who takes a humble approach to his work. He lives a comfy and cozy lifestyle until his son is found dead from a heroin overdose. This sounds like a mystery for an angry dad to stomp around his snowy town and punch a few shady folks who dabble in drugs. He wanders into clubs and does some punching. He follows some bad guys and guns them down in the snow. Standard Neeson revenge stuff.
Yet it never feels bland, partially from Neeson’s commitment to a believably humble small-town man but mostly from the flair of the setting. Of course, a huge draw for the film is the final boss of drug lord going by the name Trevor "Viking" Calcote (Tom Bateman). He has got to be the most over-the-top yuppie villain I’ve seen in so long I have to wonder if this kind of story took place in the 1990s. He’s a rich, slick-haired, suit-wearing, snarling businessman who absolutely oozes evil. He has an ugly relationship with his ex-wife and treats his son with a strict diet that doesn’t allow for any cookies. When dropping his boy off with his ex-wife, she says that if the boy eats the same exact healthy dish every day as instructed he’ll want to kill himself. Viking seems like he’d prefer it giving how little he feels for his boy.
The film goes about its murders in an almost Coen Brothers style of dark wit, breaking the killings into chapters of crossing names off the list. Some come with bitterness while others are somewhat surreal in their surprise of violence. Most of dark but portrayed in a manner so cold I questioned how much absurdity such a premise is going for. It seems easier to laugh at the over-the-top nature of Neeson’s other performances in the likes of Non-Stop and The Commuter. Within this picture, it’s a trickier tapestry of thriller hi-jinks that dabbles and dares for the smirk in its vicious nature.
Cold Pursuit is a thriller where the messier it gets in its tangled web, the most entertaining it becomes. Tracking who is in what part of the chain of the drug lord scheme is not as interesting as watching their reactions, where no-nonsense Native Americans threaten ditzy secretaries and old-timers with cancer laugh at the threat of hitmen. Cold Pursuit doesn’t have a certain somber nature that makes its a chilling thriller but just enough theatrics to make it a pleasing one if not all that memorable.