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Cold Pursuit (2019)  

Review: written April 2019

Black comedy / revenge thriller mashup

This Liam Neeson vehicle is an oddly unexpected affair. Liam Neeson action movies come with a certain expectation –which this movie takes a little delight in circumventing. Surprises and lack of adherence to convention are welcome in a genre where every movie can tend to look the same.. and I’m glad this movie sets out to do something different. But in all truthfulness, I can’t claim that it really worked for me.

The scene is set efficiently.. we are in a remote American village, where the snow plough driver is the town hero, for keeping the roads open from snow and connected to the outside world. When his son is inadvertently caught up in a drug killing through mistaken identity, the grieving parents react differently. Laura Dern (hard to understand why she accepted such a poorly developed role) finds it hard to continue to relate to her husband, while Liam Neeson finds a violent side as he opts to take revenge. As he works his way up the drug gang hierarchy, both police and a rival Native American gang become involved.

All of this makes it sound like a grim Death Wish style revenge movie, and the tough gritty killings which don’t all go according to plan would bear that out. And yet, there’s a wholly light hearted (in a very black kind of a comedy way) tone to the movie. Each death is announced by an intertitle with some plinky plonky music which tells you not to take this so seriously, and some of the characters and humourous moments play it for smiles rather than tension.

So it’s a mixture of Death Wish meets Fargo, which makes it sound a lot better than it is. Not a disaster, but just as I was getting invested in a revenge thriller I felt wrong footed as it shifted to Black comedy, and then just as I started to align myself with Fargo-Lite, I was wrong footed again as it changed tones to action thriller, then back to gritty revenge. Go in ready for black comedy and you’ll probably enjoy it more than I did.

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