Cold Pursuit, Hot Mess
Suspected Racist Liam Neeson IS Nels Coxman
I have to get the uncomfortable part of this review out of the way, because there’s no avoiding it. We need to talk about Liam Neeson. Specifically, we need to talk about Neeson’s character’s name, which really should have been his new movie’s title: “Nels Coxman.” John Carter? Based on that title alone, you’d probably skip it. John Wick? Again, if you knew nothing about it, you’d likely pass. But a movie called Nels Coxman? Intriguing!
COLD PURSUIT ★ (1/5 stars)
Directed by: Hans Petter Moland
Written by: Frank Baldwin and Kim Fupz Aakeson
Starring: T Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Tom Bateman
Running time: 118 min.
The movie is not called that, though. It’s called Cold Pursuit. Clearly, no one thought twice about casting the American remake of In Order of Disappearance, a 2014 Norwegian movie about a guy who goes somewhat crazy and seeks revenge with the help of his trusty snowplow. This is a Liam Neeson Movie all the way: high-concept, and not so much an “action movie” as it is a “violence movie.” What’s the difference? Glad you asked! Die Hard defines the Action Movie. The hero does heroic things, and the film focuses on the action, not the human wreckage that results. Taken is a Violence Movie. The main character, generally a disgruntled white guy, seeks revenge. This translates to people (usually brown people: see any of the Death Wish movies) dying in terrible ways.
Neeson makes a lot of Violence Movies. This used to be somewhat of a puzzle, or even a joke. For some reason, most likely Love Actually, a lot people think of him as a Serious Actor who got stuck making movies where he calls various Eastern European people, reads them the meta description for his LinkedIn page, threatens to kill them in terrible ways, and then does. These people seem to forget his first big movie role, in Sam Raimi’s glorious Darkman. It went a little something like this:
So after making 3 Taken movies and a Taken-but-on-a-plane movie and a Taken-but-on-a-train movie and a movie where he plays a guy who wraps his hands in a bunch of glass shards so that he can fistfight some wolves, it follows that producers would call Liam Neeson first when they needed a lead actor for Snowplow Taken.
I’ve now written 250 words of this review, and I could have just used two: “Snowplow Taken.” Because that’s basically it: Snowplow Driver seeks revenge against criminals who’ve taken his son from him. “Taken” in this case is taken in the Biblical sense. A local drug lord kills him. Nels Coxman (!) takes the law into his own mittened hands and starts killing the drug-cartel people, who think that the local Native-American gang is responsible. Then the drug-cartel guys start killing the Native-American gang guys. Cold Pursuit becomes a bad reboot of Yojimbo starring Homer Simpson’s Mr. Plow. Liam Neeson will continue to make this kind of stuff. Although we just got one starring Bruce Willis, it’s not hard to imagine a 70-year-old Neeson starring in the third remake of Death Wish. In fact, it’s probably and sadly inevitable.