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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Cold Pursuit blends Tarantino-esque pulp fiction and oddball humour

There’s plenty of the unexpected, in this tale of an enraged father trying to avenge the death of his teenage son.

movie-reviews Updated: Feb 08, 2019 15:14 IST
Rashid Irani
Rashid Irani
Hindustan Times
As Liam Neeson  targets a horde of henchmen, the gratuitous violence is leavened by cheeky asides.
As Liam Neeson targets a horde of henchmen, the gratuitous violence is leavened by cheeky asides.( )
         
Cold Pursuit
  • Direction: Hans Peter Moland
  • Actors: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern
  • Rating: 3.5 / 5

Cold Pursuit is an unusual film, a comedy thriller set in the wintry wilderness of a small, snowbound town in Colorado (with locations in Canada standing in), where a snow-plough operator has just lost his teenage son.

In an effective bit of casting, the late-blooming action icon Liam Neeson (who’s chased after numerous missing and endangered children in the course of his career) plays the enraged and bereaved parent.

He doesn’t buy the official explanation that his son died from a heroin overdose; “he wasn’t a druggie” he murmurs to no one in particular. Alone and ignored, he initially contemplates suicide; instead, he decides to track down the boy’s killer and avenge the death himself.

This is, interestingly, an English-language remake by Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland, of his own 2014 comic thriller, Kraftidioten. Here too, he effectively blends Tarantino-esque pulp fiction, oddball humour and deadpan characterisation.

While most of the cast is effective, Laura Dern is wasted in the under-explored role of the mourning mother.
While most of the cast is effective, Laura Dern is wasted in the under-explored role of the mourning mother.

The vigilante dad’s primary target is a ruthless drug lord (Tom Bateman). Also on the scene are the villain’s estranged wife, their preternaturally calm son (Nicholas Holmes), a couple of clueless cops (Emmy Rossum-John Doman), and a Native-American drug dealer and rival (Tom Jackson).

A horde of henchmen with nicknames like Speedo, Limbo and Mustang are bludgeoned to death in succession. The gratuitous violence is leavened by cheeky asides — a double-crossing hitman is requested to step clear of the spotless carpet, before being shot at point-blank range.

Quirkily, every time one of the baddies is dispatched, a name card with a small cross flashes across the screen. The death of the last victim in the film’s final scene is a humdinger.

With the exception of Laura Dern, who is wasted in the under-explored role of the mourning mother, the rest of the supporting actors are sufficiently zestful. As is Cold Pursuit.

First Published: Feb 08, 2019 15:14 IST