Based on the 2014 movie In Order of Disappearance, Cold Pursuit follows snowplow driver Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) as he embarks on a campaign of revenge after a family member is killed by vicious drug dealers – with the narrative detailing the ripple effect Nels’ exploits have on the various criminals and police officers in the area. It’s a premise that seems to promise a fairly straight-forward, by-the-numbers revenge thriller and yet, as becomes increasingly clear, filmmaker Hans Petter Moland has something slightly more off-kilter in mind, as Cold Pursuit, which ultimately doesn’t really even classify as a thriller, segues from a fairly typical opening stretch (ie Neeson’s hard-edged character murders his way through a series of goons) into a midsection and second half that boasts a darkly comic (and undeniably Coen brothers-esque) sort of vibe – with the unexpected shift in tone generally succeeding due to an emphasis on enjoyably oddball interludes and a series of compelling performances. (In terms of the latter, the picture definitely benefits quite substantially from a periphery cast that includes Emmy Rossum, William Forsythe, and, as the entertainingly over-the-top villain, Tom Bateman.) It’s equally apparent, however, that Moland’s lackadaisical approach to Frank Baldwin’s meandering screenplay ensures that Cold Pursuit does run out of steam beyond a certain point, and, in a far more distressing development, results in an action-packed climax that doesn’t pack the visceral, exciting punch one might’ve anticipated, with the end result a decent enough Neeson vehicle that deserves credit for trying something different yet probably could’ve used a few more passes through the editing bay.
**1/2 out of ****