Cold Pursuit always entertains… but it doesn’t amount to much

Liam Neeson gives his usual man-out-for-revenge role a darkly comedic twist in this thriller, playing a humble snow plough driver who seeks to murder the drug dealers he thinks killed his son.

It’s definitely funnier than the Neeson flick you may have expected, but critic Tony Stamp reckons it needed to push the humour more.

Cold Pursuit shows its hand early on, as a Fargo-esque musical cue plays over shots of snowy vistas: we’re headed to Coen-town. Or a facsimile of it, at least. That particular line between tragedy and comedy is a tricky one to walk, starting here with a dead son on a very squeaky gurney, but what are we meant to feel when one of the killers has their teeth punched out? Catharsis? Or is that meant to be funny, too? It’s not always clear, and without a firm pair of hands on the wheel a la The Brothers Coen, Cold Pursuit drifts off toward Blandsville.

The director of the Danish original Kraftidioten helms this English language remake of his own film, and the main difference between the two comes from casting—when Stellan Skarsgård starts wasting bad guys, it’s humorously out of left field. When Liam “I should probably call my agent” Neeson does it, not so much.

Cold Pursuit is always entertaining though, even when it seems unsure what it’s aiming for. After about thirty minutes of Neeson murdering thugs, a large supporting cast is introduced, and things perk up considerably. Detective Emmy Rossum trades banter with her amiable boss. Crime boss Tom Bateman parents his son very badly. His henchman bicker. None of it is gut-busting, but it’s amusing, and clever in the way it gradually fills in everyone’s backstory.

But it doesn’t amount to much. A lot of people die, and you may chuckle a bit along the way. In the original, Skarsgård’s character is called Nils Dickman. Here Neeson plays Nels Coxman. It’s almost a joke, but not really.