Cold Pursuit Movie Review

Cold Pursuit movie poster

Liam Neeson is at it again, looking older and older as he beats up bad guys who wronged his family. It’s a formula that worked for a short while a decade ago and has long since stopped putting up numbers, but here is Oskar Schindler doing what he doesn’t do best—action movies.

And yet, Cold Pursuit works in spite of itself thanks to curious direction by Hans Petter Moland and bloodthirsty editing by Nicolaj Monberg. Moland, working from a script by first-time writer Frank Baldwin, splits the film into a series of vignettes, each featuring a brutal death of one of the baddies responding for killing Neeson’s son. There is absolutely nothing unique about the story, but the execution is just unique enough to keep the movie cranking.

Set in a slightly surreal snowscape that feels like something you’d expect to see in Narnia—save for the snowplows—Cold Pursuit toes the line between grounded thriller and outrageous revenge film, rarely veering off course. Neeson isn’t as large of a presence as you’d expect, often deferring screen time to more interesting villains and side characters. But the movie propels forward with intentional lurches, fits, and hard knocks in a way that works anyway.

Monberg’s editing plays a big role, at least early on, helping to hook you on the film’s brutal simplicity. Monberg refuses to play by the rules, cutting and splicing at moments that catch you off guard or even skip over seemingly large chunks of exposition—and action—that apparently were unworthy. The editing, paired with equally rule-breaking music by George Fenton, makes for a visual and auditory treat.

Cold Pursuit does lose steam as it churns toward the end, but its refusal to conform to standard thriller conventions never entirely goes away. We’re not talking about groundbreaking cinema here, but Moland and team made the most of what could have been just another lazy Liam Neeson action movie—and the audience is rewarded as a result.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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