Movies

Movie review: 'Cold Pursuit'

Snow plow driver turns all Dirty Harry in remake misfire

By Rick Romancito
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 3/3/19

If you saw "In Order of Disappearance," Hans Petter Moland's 2014 Norwegian thriller, be aware that its just-released remake, “Cold Pursuit,” starring Liam Neeson is virtually a …

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Movies

Movie review: 'Cold Pursuit'

Snow plow driver turns all Dirty Harry in remake misfire

Posted

If you saw "In Order of Disappearance," Hans Petter Moland's 2014 Norwegian thriller, be aware that its just-released remake, “Cold Pursuit,” starring Liam Neeson is virtually a shot-for-shot facsimile. But, the big difference is that one leg of a three-pronged drug and vengeance war central to the plot has been changed from Serbians to Native Americans, including certain racist attitudes.

To be clear, although its setting is supposedly now Colorado, it was shot near Alberta, Canada and it features a number of First Nations actors including the esteemed Tom Jackson as the head of a cocaine cartel. It also was filmed in 2017 but not released until now. Neeson, 65, has also said this will be his last action movie role. Good thing, because the “particular set of skills” bit is getting stale and really hard to believe.

All of these changes might not add up to much except that they help to create a kind of surreal atmosphere in which a place that is identified as Colorado but looks nothing like the real thing, especially Denver, houses a cocaine turf war into which a lowly snowplow driver stumbles out of revenge for the death of his son. That alone sounds like it deserves a look-see, but Moland’s off-center take loses a lot in translation.

The movie’s plot figures on a man named Nels Coxman (Neeson), who has just been named Citizen of the Year for the small town of Kehoe. He is a taciturn man who communicates with his wife Grace (Laura Dern) in a kind of grunty shorthand. Rather than give a speech in front of the town fathers he’d be more comfortable driving his heavy-duty snowplow through their snow-covered roads giving travelers the comfort of being able to get where they want to go. For him, he’s perfectly happy going nowhere but here.

All of that changes when he gets word that his son, Kyle (Micheál Richardson), has been found dead in Denver from a drug overdose. Not believing his son was “a druggie,” he is at odds with his wife who is in a state of shock because she doesn’t think she ever really knew her own son. Driven to a near-state of ultimate despair, he happens upon one of his son’s co-workers who gives him a lead on what actually happened.

The story might proceed at that point along a conventional revenge-against-bad-guys-who-done-him-wrong line, but Moland injects a jokey aesthetic in which the screen cuts to black every time a character is killed and a title card appears displaying their name and gang nickname. Why? It probably has something to do with Moland’s original movie title, because at the end the cast credits are displayed "in order of disappearance." As each name is highlighted, it turns white as if it is being turned into ash or snow and it blows away and disappears.

The movie certainly aspires to take a different approach within the crime genre, in the same way we’ve seen in movies like “Shoot ‘Em Up” and any number of Tarantino flicks, but lofty airs in this case hit their mark the first time. With this movie, the effect is so scattershot and ineffective, the coup de grace at the end is almost like the director snubbing his nose at the very process itself.

By the way, “In Order of Appearance” is available now on Netflix.

Tempo grade: D

“Cold Pursuit” is rated R for strong violence, drug material, and some language including sexual references.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

Cold War

MPAA rating: R for some sexual content, nudity and language.

Taos Community Auditorium

“Cold War” is a highly acclaimed passionate love story between a man and a woman who meet in the ruins of post-war Poland, directed by Pawel Pawilkowski.

With vastly different backgrounds and temperaments, they are fatefully mismatched and yet condemned to each other. Set against the background of the Cold War in 1950s Poland, Berlin, Yugoslavia and Paris, it's the tale of a couple separated by politics, character flaws and unfortunate twists of fate — an impossible love story in impossible times.

It stars Joanna Kulig as Zula and Tomasz Kot as Wiktor. This film received an 18 minute standing ovation at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it won Best Director.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (March 3) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday (March 4-9) at the Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

What Men Want

MPAA rating: R for language and sexual content throughout, and some drug material.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres

Passed up for a well-deserved promotion, sports agent Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) wonders what else she needs to do to succeed in a man's world.

Hoping to find answers from a psychic, Ali drinks a weird concoction that suddenly allows her to hear what men are thinking. Using her newfound ability, Ali starts to turn the tables on her obnoxious male colleagues while racing to sign the next basketball superstar.

This is a switcheroo on the 2000 Mel Gibson movie, “What Women Want.”

Directed by Adam Shankman, this film co-stars Brian Bosworth, Richard Roundtree, Josh Brener and Kellan Lutz.

It is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

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