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Liam Neeson – Nelson “Nels” Coxman
Emmy Rossum – Kimberly Dash
Tom Bateman – Trevor “Viking” Calcote
William Forsythe – Brock “Wingman” Coxman
Julia Jones – Aya
Michael Eklund – “Speedo”
Laura Dern – Grace Coxman
Domenick Lombardozzi – Mustang
This movie is like a grotesque pantomime. Not only is it packed full of distinguishing characters (the good guy, the foe and his back-up baddies, the lover, the joker) but its setting is slightly fantastical too. Cold Pursuit takes place in / around the snowy plains of Kehoe, Colorado which plunges the story – and viewer – into freezing beauty. And it works. If a story like this was set amongst the skyscrapers of New York or on the winding streets of London I have a feeling it would prove much less effective. The fact Neeson and his co-stars move from one gargantuan plateau to another gives this movie a sense of intriguing isolation; one minute the actor is laying in a frosty ditch with nothing around him for miles. The next he is seen driving down a mountain edge towards a tiny sparkling village. Fuck spending hundreds on skiing this year, just sit in front of this movie for free.
As well as natural beauty you are faced with some unnatural going’s-on throughout Cold Pursuit. The setting-scenario contradiction is perfect as the story progresses swiftly leaving little time for boring talky scenes between people. One minute the focus is on big bad boy Viking in his mountainside villa as he hatches a deadly plan, next it’s on Nelson (Neeson) and him driving a tree straight through an enemy’s car – whilst the enemy is sitting inside. Director Hans Petter Moland is to be applauded for his macabre sense of style and maintaining a constant atmosphere of black comedy. This means one or two characters dropping laughable one-liners during times of extreme seriousness (the mortician sliding Nelson’s son’s body out of the morgue freezer and announcing, “he’s dead” is – oddly – so bizarre it’s hilarious).
One character is extemely dangerous but has such an attitude that he gets stroppy when faced with a foe, instead of playing it cold and hard. A case of the spoilt rich brat. Only his toys are mainly made by Smith & Wesson.
A married couple form part of the unruly ensemble. With him being a dangerous but loyal friend to the lead character and her being so acid-tongued and dominant that she could probably make Charles Bronson sit down just by looking at him, they make the perfect addition to the cast. When the scene shifts across to them expect high-pitched shouting and slapping as the female half puts rottweilers worldwide to shame. And obedient behaviour from him. Great stuff, her dynamics in particular make sure Cold Pursuit plays out on different levels – brilliant for a Liam Neeson film.
And a scene in which Nelson hunts down a suspect in the killing of his son switches from grisly to giggly in seconds when the encounter takes an unexpected turn in a bed of snow.
All the above elements seal a movie that doesn’t get lost in its own plot like many others, doesn’t pause for thought, and instead runs almost like real-time as Neeson’s character embarks on his ‘mission’. This is the result of one man’s thirst for revenge and it moves from scene to scene by presenting various aggressive scenarios that are crazy, but largely entertaining. I can forgive Neeson for the fact he just cannot play a character that is different to all his others in various films – the story of Cold Pursuit and excellent character mix overrides this.