Hardly the frozen “Taken” we were promised by the marketing, this remake of the director’s own 2014 film “Kraftidioten” has moments of sublime black humour but is too disjointed, derivative and haphazard to do justice to its cast or premise.
Hard-working snowplough driver Nels Coxman (Neeson) is a pillar of the community of Rocky Mountain resort town of Kehoe. But when his son is murdered by a local drug lord, Nels decides to avenge his son’s death, setting off a turf war between rival drug dealers which leaves the pristine white snow of Kehoe drenched in blood.
Absurd and arbitrary, “Cold Pursuit” has no time for the niceties of narrative convention and instead grabs fistfuls of other movies to cram into its bag of tricks with a liberal dose Nordic noir humour to cover up the script’s shortcomings. While there are many darkly comic moments, they’re undercut by the difficulty of taking anything seriously. Coxman’s journey from grieving father to sociopathic vigilante is ridiculously abrupt and as the body count rapidly rises, the film loses coherence with every passing kill.
Liberally homaging the Coen Brothers, Guy Ritchie and even Quentin Tarantino, director Hans Petter Moland stages the action well but fails to get anything cohesive from his cast or the script. Liam Neeson phones in his performance and Laura Dern simply walks out of the picture around the half-hour mark never to be seen again. On the opposition side, Tom Bateman, as drug lord Viking, overacts to such a furious degree that his scenery chewing at times presents more of a threat to life and limb than a snowplough driver with a grudge.
Seemingly lacking the courage to be a full-on violent black comedy yet unable to summon the coherence to be a revenge thriller, “Cold Pursuit” ends up a slushy mix of both, a tonally muddled disappointment.