Cold Pursuit

Rated Greg’s Top 5 Snow Movies

  1. The Grey
  2. Wind River
  3. Cliffhanger
  4. The Hateful Eight
  5. Fargo

There’s a version of a Cold Pursuit review that praises the film for its creativity within an already established business model, that of a Liam Neeson revenge thriller.  Since the mightily successful Taken in 2008, Neeson has been making this movie practically on an annual basis.  It’s a formula not just in terms of the “one simple man takes on a bunch of thugs” plot, but even in release date given that they all seem to come out in the time of year where competition is light. Taken came out in January 2008.  Unknown (Taken but with amnesia) came out in February 2011. The Grey (Taken but against wolves) came out in January 2012*.  Non-Stop (Taken but on a plane) came out in February 2014.  Taken 3 (Taken but now he’s the one that has been Taken) came out in January 2015. The Commuter (Taken but on a train) came out in January 2018.  This is clearly counter programming for those that don’t care about catching up with the Oscar nominated movies before the late February ceremony. 

*The Grey is actually an ensemble survival masterpiece with little in common with the others (see top 5 above), but it was marketed as Taken against wolves so I included it here.  

With Cold Pursuit (aka Taken but this time he drives a snow plow) coming out the weekend before Valentine’s Day, its easy to assume this as another seasonal Liam Neeson punch-em up.  Which this film absolutely is by the way, but with one caveat.  Cold Pursuit has jokes.  Not corny, Fast and Furious type jokes (sit down Tyrese), but legitimate chuckle-inducing LOL’s, along with a quite clever narrative structure that pokes fun at the various tropes of crime films and gangster films collectively.  Cold Pursuit is by no means a parody, but it is most certainly self aware of the type of story it is telling.  It’s kind of like Boondock Saints in that manner.  The 118 minutes is politically incorrect, but it knows it’s politically incorrect (please note these jokes are not for everyone).  Even the main bad guy, “Viking,” who at first appeared to be a terrible actor (Why is he so forcibly talking in that asshole, whispery tenor? And why is his nickname Viking?  He has no facial hair and wears a goddamn suit), I came to think he must be doing some sort of send up to the villains of a 90’s Van Damme movie like Hard Target**.  Or he might still simply be a really bad actor, either way it works for the film. 

**Remember Hard Target? With the greatest haircut in cinematic history?

Liam Neeson claims that Cold Pursuit will be his last action movie role and this is a fitting bookend to his tough guy decade.  For one thing, Cold Pursuit is probably the best of the bunch since ‘08’s Taken and because it also hints at how ridiculous a movie like Taken or Non-Stop is, it would have been weird to nonchalantly go back to his normal bread and butter next Winter (kind of like trying to find fun in Apples to Apples after playing Cards Against Humanity).  Also, it can’t go unmentioned that Neeson probably wouldn’t have been given another opportunity anyways.  His recent PR disaster (google it) coupled with the fact that Cold Pursuit performed well below expectations at the box office means that there will not be any tallies added to the actor’s epic body count anytime soon.

Does this guy look like a Viking to you?

Here’s the thing though, Cold Pursuit actually isn’t as innovative as it may seem to 99% of the American audience that sees it.  They’ll likely find the conceit low key interesting for a Neeson action film without realizing that this product is directly imported from Europe.  Confused?  I’ll explain.  Cold Pursuit is a remake of the 2014 Swedish film “Kraftidioten” starring Stellan Skarsgard.  And it’s not a remake in the same fashion that A Star is Born or The Departed is a remake.  Cold Pursuit is literally a frame by frame, line by line remake of the Swedish version, aside from switching a few pop culture references*** and changing the Serbian gangsters that end up caught in the middle of Neeson’s vendetta to a group of Native Americans.

***One of the references has two Denver residents debating whether John Elway or Peyton Manning was the best Denver Bronco quarterback.  Seriously?  Any casual football fan over the age of 25 knows that this would never be up for debate in a real life conversation.  Here’s an idea, why don’t movie studios hire one sports fan to review the feasibility all such sports details in their scripts.  You could save yourself a lot of embarrassment.   Shit, Rated Greg would do it for free.

Admittedly I don’t see a ton of foreign films, but I had seen Kraftidioten (billed as “In Order of Disappearance” to America) when I noticed the press release about Neeson making a “vengeance snow plow film” and just knew they’d be one and the same.  But I’m not gonna be one of those people that advises you to see the original instead here.  This isn’t like when Vince Vaughn remade Psycho frame for frame.  Unlike Psycho, Kraftidioten isn’t canon.  Rather, just check out Cold Pursuit (if you like revenge thrillers that is).  Neeson is much more convincing at punching people in the face than the professor from Goodwill Hunting is and also you won’t have to deal with subtitles.  Grade: B+

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