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Cold Pursuit – Liam Neeson, racism and how to bomb an opening

Is Liam Neeson a racist and is Cold Pursuit an utterly pointless remake? Sit down, I think we need to have a little talk.

Liam Neeson as Nels Coxman staring intently

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In the week leading up to Cold Pursuit’s release Liam Neeson attends a bunch of press junkets about the his latest revenge flick. In one particular interview he tries to add some real world context by telling a revenge tale from his past. In doing so he not only screwed the pooch but drunk sexted the pooches hot friend, got caught by the pooch and iced out by both parties.

In case you missed it he told a story about a close female friend being violently raped over 40 years ago by a black man. This caused a lapse in his moral compass, which led to him trying seek out any black man he could find keen to start some shit and bludgeon them to death with a small blunt object.

He expressed regret for his actions, explained the irrational absurdity of the primal desire that overtook him and how he instead chose a higher path of talking things through with friends and power walking. Good for him. When asking should I commit a hate crime or go for a power walk? The power walk must win every time. Although now I’m gonna second guess every power walker I see, I mean what was their alternative? Hopefully not half baked film critics.

As expected mainstream and social media took up their torches and pitchforks in an outpouring of recreational outrage shouting “racist!” and calling for Neeson to be, excuse the pun, blacklisted and a boycott of the film. This eventually led to the red carpet being shut down at the premiere and some idiots lobbying to have him digitally removed from the new Men in Black film.

The absurdity of this entire debacle is not lost on your average Joe.

One, how stupid is Neeson to even think that someone would not take this comment and turn it into something else?

Two, the guy is an actor, he pretends to be people he isn’t for a living, is it not entirely possible that this real life account of his never happened in the first place?

Three, he might be an idiot but I do not think the Liam Neeson of today is racist, possibly just a bullshit artist.

And if so, the masterpiece of bullshit he’s painted here has completely detracted from his latest movie, Cold Pursuit which, believe it or not, I am trying to review!

Yeah ok great, but what about the movie?

The first and possibly only thing you need to know about this movie is that it’s a remake helmed by the same director as the original film. Which begs the question why mate? Why make almost exactly the same film as you did four years ago?

The director I’m talking about is Hans Petter Moland and the original film is the 2014 Norwegian black action comedy In Order Of Disappearance, which starred Stellan Skarsgard, who did a great, if not better job.

The only thing I can assume with Cold Pursuit is that he wanted to make a bit of a cash grab, possibly tweak the original or expand on some of the themes he struck out with in the first draft. But no, Cold Pursuit is almost shot for shot, scene for scene, exactly the same movie as In Order of Disappearance.

The story

For those who didn’t see the original, because they aren’t a fan of subtitles and don’t like to read movies, the story is about a man who sets out to avenge the death of his son at the hands of some drug smugglers. He takes to revenge killing like a duck to water and his actions end up setting off a turf war between two rival gangs.

The difference with the western version is that it is set in a small resort town in Colorado and the Serbian gangsters from the Norwegian version are now Native Americans in this film. While in the first movie the Serbians were on foreign turf in Norway, the Native Americans are on home ground here which could have led to some different themes emerging and further exploration of characters but instead they stick to the same recipe of minorities, intolerance and of course revenge.

At the end of the day you don’t give a shit about the criminal characters anyway because you’re just waiting to see how Liam Neeson is going to kill them, with the exception of maybe one.

The cast

The cast are all ok. Laura Dern plays the wife and grieving mother reasonably well. Highlight performances were Domenick Lombardozzi as the henchman Mustang (his character was excellent) and Tom Jackson as White Bull. The low point was Tom Bateman’s bad guy Viking, not necessarily because of his performance but more the comical direction they took with his character, which diluted how much of a menace he should have been.

Then we come to Liam Neeson who plays the snow plow driver and mourning father, Nels Coxman (in the Norwegian version it’s Nils Dickman, do whatever you like with that information). He does his Liam Neeson version of the character quite well and Nels Coxman possesses a darkness that you don’t see in some of his similar characters. I preferred Skarsgard in the original though.

The verdict

It’s difficult to rate something that is a carbon copy of a film less than five years old. It’s a decent story that has some interesting themes about parenting and how we end up not knowing as much about our kids as we may think, but that kind of washes away after the first act when the body count ramps up.

It’s not as action packed as the trailers would have you believe. It’s got the occasional heart warming moment, a dark sense of humour and the cinematography is excellent. It should be, they had heaps of practice when they made the previous version. The problem is, it’s just not an improvement on that previous version.

In Order of Disappearance was really the Christmas dinner here, which makes Cold Pursuit the microwaved leftovers. It’s the same meal just not as fresh.

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