Arts

Liam Neeson is out for revenge in Cold Pursuit

Liam Neeson plays a snow plough driver hungry for revenge in Hans Petter Moland's blood-soaked thriller Cold Pursuit

Laura Dern as Grace Coxman and Liam Neeson as Nelson Coxman in Cold Pursuit
Damon Smith

REVENGE is a dish best served at sub-zero temperature in Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland's English-language remake of his 2014 black comedy In Order Of Disappearance.

Screenwriter Frank Baldwin transplants the stylised blood-letting from snow-laden Scandinavia to the ski slopes of a fictional Colorado town where white powder on the ground could be trafficked cocaine.

In this close-knit community, police adopt a relaxed approach to visitors smoking dope on the street because the local economy relies heavily on income from these pleasure-seeking tourists.

Corruption is rife, cops are largely in the pay of powerful crime lords, so the long arm of the law occasionally fails to take a gloved hand out of its pockets.

Cold Pursuit centres on a grief-stricken father, who strikes back against the criminal fraternity which murdered his son.

Liam Neeson's portrayal of the vengeance-seeking patriarch is less muscular than his bruising heroics in the Taken films.

He is an awkward fit for a film which slaloms at dizzying speed between lurid violence and gallows humour.

Baldwin's script leaves supporting characters in the deep freeze, so it is hard to muster warmth and affection when they become collateral damage.

Nelson Coxman (Neeson) is a long-serving snow plough driver in Kehoe, which welcomes thousands of tourists to its ski resorts.

Shortly after Nelson blushingly accepts a Citizen Of The Year prize from his peers, he learns that his beloved boy Kyle (Micheal Richardson) has died from a heroin overdose.

"We didn't know our own son," despairs Nelson's wife Grace (Laura Dern).

"Kyle wasn't a druggie," growls her husband, who rejects the findings of police detectives Dash (Emmy Rossum) and Gip (John Doman).

Grief steadily poisons the marriage and Nelson contemplates suicide.

At his lowest ebb, he learns that Kyle, who worked at the airport, was murdered by drug cartel kingpin Trevor Calcote aka Viking (Tom Bateman).

Nelson vows revenge and gains valuable intelligence from his brother Brock (William Forsythe) about Viking's well-oiled operation.

The father systematically targets Viking's henchmen and the drug lord wrongly attributes the deaths to his sworn rival, Native American cartel leader White Bull (Tom Jackson).

A bitter turf war spirals out of control and Viking's precocious son Ryan (Nicholas Holmes) is caught in the crossfire.

Cold Pursuit caters to the base desires of Neeson's core fanbase with bone-crunching fist fights and a shoot out, albeit with a hero who collapses exhausted, gasping for breath, after each exertion.

The Irish leading man and co-stars fumble the macabre humour but one delayed punchline with a paraglider hits its target with satisfying split-second timing.

Bateman portrays his antagonist as a petulant, snivelling hot-head, who expects beleaguered lieutenants to clean up his mess.

Sadly, he doesn't task them with tidying up the jarring tonal shifts of Moland's frost-bitten picture.

RATING: 5/10

COLD PURSUIT (15, 119 mins) Thriller/Comedy/Romance. Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, Tom Bateman, William Forsythe, Nicholas Holmes, John Doman, Tom Jackson, Micheal Richardson. Director: Hans Petter Moland.

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