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Cold Pursuit: It’ll Warm Your Heart With Dark Humor and Violence [Review]

It was recently that Liam Neeson stated he retired from action movies due to being in his mid-60s.

Well, that didn’t last long.

Cold Pursuit is a revenge thriller that is a throwback to his past action movies of a relentless man hunting down bad guys one-by-one. And it’s not a bad thing for Liam Neeson.

The film is an American remake of the 2014’s Norwegian film Kraftidioten or also known as In Order of Disappearance. The original film stars Stellan Skarsgard in that title role as a vengeful father.

Both films have the similar plotline of an honorable street snowplower hellbent on taking revenge on a drug lord who mistakenly ordered the execution of his son. His actions ignited a turf war between rival gangs, which body counts pile up towards a violent showdown.

If the Formula Works, Then Don’t Change It

Director Hans Petter Moland directed both In Order of Disappearance and the American remake of Cold Pursuit. The plotline in both movies nearly followed identically to the wire, including important scenes, twists, dark humor and violence. The dark humor and violence are the backbone to both films that sends us back to the lovable Joel and Ethan Coen’s film Fargo. Most importantly, Cold Pursuit kept the tracking death list throughout the entire movie that sparks many laughters in a morbid way. To let Liam Neeson play a vengeful father—well, it works perfectly well. Neeson played it well for many years. Some humor even translate across the ocean with Stellan Skarsgard’s Nils Dickman to become Liam Neeson’s Nels Coxman.

Americanization For American Audiences Worked Well

Cold Pursuit may be a better version, however, due to the Americanization of the humor and diversity of the cast. One of the hardest to distinguish in the original film was to differentiate all the many villains who appear briefly on screen as Norwegians and Serbians. The Americanized version actually made a rival drug gang as this creative Native Americans infringing on an Italian-like mob’s turf.

In fact, the diversification helped by improving the dark humor jokes with racial sarcasm in many scenes. One scene has the Native Americans visiting an Indian casino hotel, in which the reception asked them if they had a “reservation.” Well, you get the joke.

An Unforgettable Villain Being a Vegan With A Temper

Tom Bateman steals the film playing Viking, the drug lord who makes multiple poor decisions by starting a gang war and executing the wrong people. The villainess humor derives from the irony of a vegan health nut, who has a bloodlust for violence, gore and ill-temperament. His mistreatment of everyone from his right-hand man Mustang (played by Domenick Lombardozzi) and his ex-wife Aya (played by Julia Jones) are fun to watch. As the story progress, it’s not doubt he becomes a very hated villain and you’ll be cheering for his demise in the end.

Female Talent Were Wasted

The biggest flaw for this kind of film is that is very male-centric. Cold Pursuit made a reasonable attempt to draw female characters into the fold with Viking’s ex-wife, Grace Coxman (Laura Dern) and a local detective (Emmy Rossum). Rossum’s character tried to put the pieces together on the mystery surrounding the brutal murders, but her actions didn’t seem to matter much in the end. And the wives didn’t parley into anything better except for bickering with their husbands and then disappearing off the screen. Bringing in known female talent for forgettable minor roles seem like a waste.


The film makes no apologies being a male-centric action film with Liam Neeson. With the blending of violence and dark humor, it is certainly a film to watch until Neeson changes his made to do another Taken.

Grade: B

Cold Pursuit will be playing nationwide in theaters on Friday, February 8.

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