Cold Pursuit Review: Hollywood masala done right
A 100 per cent masala comedy action flick that pokes a whole lot of fun at all things guns and all things killing
Cold Pursuit is the remake of Hans Petter Moland’s 2014 Norwegian film, Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance). This black comedy action flick takes much inspiration from its predecessors: Tarantino’s stylistic gore and witty dialogue; Guy Ritchie’s fondness for oddball characters (in his early gangster films); and the sheer insanity that is John Wick.
So, in effect, this is one out-and-out entertainer. Try not to get too muddled in the details, for, if you do, don’t expect everything to add up. The best way to tackle Cold Pursuit is to go with the flow. Don’t ask questions, just accept things for what they are, and let Liam Neeson take the reins. Though there are some similarities with Taken, this is a much more intelligent and watchable film. Remember, this is pure black comedy action masala. Everyone (well, almost) has some sort of weird nickname and everyone gets killed (mostly shot by good old Liam) in the end. After the said killing, the screen fades to black and bears a symbol next to the name of the deceased. The manner in which this is done hits the intended mark: as the body count begins to skyrocket, each fade-to-black tombstone is bound to elicit that much more laughter. Clownish characters abound in Cold Pursuit, but no one takes the cake quite like the “Viking”, a dim-witted/downright idiotic mob boss from Denver with an unrealistic sense of self. He is humoured by those around him, but it is clear that their intelligence levels are in another range altogether.
“Nels”/Nelson Coxman’s (Neeson) placid life as a respected snowplow driver in a sleepy town in the Rocky Mountains gets a jolt when his son dies under mysterious circumstances. The cause of death (a heroin overdose) takes both Nels and his wife, Grace (Dern), by surprise. Unable to deal with the inexplicable loss, Nels decides to take his own life. But when he gets wind that a drug lord by the name of the “Viking” may be responsible for the young man’s demise, he decides to take matters into his hands. In Denver, the incredibly pompous yet equally dim-witted gangster, Trevor "Viking" Calcote, is in a pickle: his drug runners keep disappearing, one after the other. To add to the dense man’s woes, his ex-wife isn’t pleased with the way he is bringing up their rather bright son. While Nels keeps eliminating Viking’s men in order to eventually get to him, the latter is convinced that the neighbouring native American drug kingpin (“White Bull”) and his associates are behind the unexplained disappearance of his minions. An all-out gang war ensues when White Bull’s only son is murdered at Viking’s behest. In this ridiculous scenario with a target on everyone’s back, no one seems to suspect the soft-spoken civic hero responsible for keeping the snow off the roads.
Cold Pursuit is the sort of film that makes its humour and action go hand in hand. Like, for example, Nelson disposing of the bodies into the local waterfall. He explains to his brother, in intricate detail, how he wraps the corpses in chicken wire, before throwing them into the frigid depths. Why chicken wire, he gets asked? For the fish, apparently. When quizzed as to how he knew such a thing, he replies that he picked up the tip from a crime novel. Deadpan Neeson delivers this dialogue and others in that famous voice, and I can remember myself laughing quite raucously at one or two of these instances. Another clever device employed by Hans Petter Moland is what I’d like to call the ‘Guy Ritchie effect’; the whole town and its neighbouring city are on the verge of a full-scale drug war, and neither side has a clue as to what is really going on.
Cold Pursuit is by no means an extraordinary film, but it will certainly give you your money’s worth. The audience is sure to find the laughs in the least likely of places.