CREDIT: Doane Gregory

Starring: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Emmy Rossum, William Forsythe, Julia Jones, Domenick Lombardozzi, Raoul Trujillo, Benjamin Hollingsworth, John Doman, Aleks Paunovic, Christopher Logan, Nathaniel Arcand, Ben Cotton, Tom Jackson, Mitchell Saddleback, Laura Dern

Director: Hans Petter Moland

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Rating: R for Drug Content, Angry Man Profanity, and Truly Wild Death Scenes

Release Date: February 8, 2019

Cold Pursuit appears to take place in a scenario where the souls of everyone involved have disappeared. That makes sense, because stripping away all of your morality is just about necessary to make working for a drug cartel or going on a reign of vengeance bearable to one’s psyche. This is perhaps the bleakest of any Liam Neeson actioner, but that darkness is alleviated by the fact that it is also the most offbeat. Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a snowplow driver in a Rocky Mountain resort town. He’s just been named Citizen of the Year, but now he has ventured out to kill every member of a notorious cartel who have killed his son. His wife (Laura Dern) leaves him as soon as she realizes what he is up to, but we stick with him, not because the revenge tastes so sweet (it doesn’t, or at least it isn’t designed to), but because the killings all go down in such deadpan fashion. That tends to happen in such a harsh and unforgiving climate and terrain as this one.

Nels’ primary adversary is the drug lord Viking (Tom Bateman), who is the breed of testosterone in a suit who tells his son that “all the answers” he’ll need to in life are in Lord of the Flies. His performance is just the right mix of hammy and deranged to make Cold Pursuit palatable. Without him or the whole film’s gallows humor ethos, this would be the type of movie to make me despair about the end of civilization. In a battle between the soulless, style is essential for the audience’s sustenance, and director Hans Petter Moland has style like you could never imagine. It also helps that there are some flashes of thriving humanity, in the form of a love story for one of the cartel members as well as a dogged detective played by Emmy Rossum. But for the most part, this is “No Country for Those with Love in Their Hearts.”

Cold Pursuit is Recommended If You Like: Taken, Fargo, Scandinavian Humor

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Tree Impalements