‘Cold Pursuit’ is feeling the heat
Amid controversy, Neeson in revenge tale
In the midst of the Liam Neeson controversy raging last week, the one thing left out in the cold is “Cold Pursuit.”
The worst thing that could happen to the darkly comic, Tarantino-esque revenge thriller (in theaters now) did.
The movie’s Irish star revealed to a journalist for Britain’s The Independent that he once searched for a random black person to kill after a loved one’s rape.
Sure, Neeson said that he looks back at the incident with shame and regret (“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, that I did that”) and told Robin Roberts that he’s “not racist” on “Good Morning America.”
But it’ll definitely turn off some moviegoers who would have watched him hunt down criminals as a grieving father avenging his dead son.
The hubbub, however, may not deter hardcore Neeson-philes or those who need the R-rated action that a “Lego Movie” sequel can’t provide.
For anyone who may have a few burning questions about “Cold Pursuit,” here are some (mostly) helpful answers.
Why are we getting yet another Liam Neeson revenge movie?
His 2009 action film “Taken” not only became a big hit, but created a cottage industry for Neeson as a grizzled, grayhaired action hero showing off his particular set of skills. (Not one of them? Timing, apparently.)
What’s the least we need to know going in?
Snowplow driver Nels Coxman (Neeson), a helpful, stoic dude named “Citizen of the Year” in his Colorado resort town,turns vigilante when his son Kyle (Micheal Richardson) is mistakenly killed by goons working for Denver drug lord Viking (Tom Bateman).
Nels starts taking out those involved, and finds himself on the radar of a couple of local cops (Emmy Rossum and John Doman), and unknowingly ignites a snowy turf war between Viking – who would like to know why his minions are disappearing, thank you very much – and a group of Native American gangsters run by the aging White Bull (Tom Jackson).
What’s Neeson’s role like?
For a guy whose day job is operating a snowplow, Nels is crazy efficient moonlighting as an antihero.
Plus, he’s practical, making sure to always find out the next guy up the food chain before eliminating his current victim – whether using his bare hands or a sawed-off hunting rifle.
Wait. So what is the best reason to see ‘Cold Pursuit’?
That prize goes to the British Bateman (“Murder on the Orient Express”). His Viking is seriously fun to watch.
He’s a psycho vegan villain who drives a Tesla, sticks to a criminal honor code, and makes his goons and his young son drink green smoothies while also outlawing Fruity Pebbles for breakfast. Which is totally a jerk move.
Would Tom Bateman be a better Batman or Superman?
Since we like to attach actors to superhero vacancies, Bateman is more of a Batman.
He’s got the look of rich guy down, plus his jaw’s square enough for the famous cowl.
Honestly, slap some face paint on him and the menacing Bateman would be a fantastic Joker.
But back to the subject at hand …
Who else is in this movie that we might know?
Folks will know Rossum from Showtime’s “Shameless” and recognize Forsythe as a longtime tough-guy character actor in various movies and TV shows.
Laura Dern has a small supporting role as Nels’ grieving wife Grace while Domenick Lombardozzi, an alum of “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire,” plays Viking’s right-hand man Mustang.
What might get lost in all the Neeson controversy?
Sneaked in between Nels’ earnest revenge plot line and Viking’s ridiculous gangster story is a nuanced narrative about White Bull’s crime syndicate returning to land where their ancestors were pushed out.
Is this OK for my kids to see?
That would be a no. Though a young boy is a key aspect of the story, the Rrated movie is chock-full of violence.
What kind of death toll are we talking here?
We stopped counting at 12 before things got really crazy.
So, all things Liam considered, how cool exactly is ‘Cold Pursuit’?
The movie will forever be haunted by Neeson’s confession. Still, for those familiar with his usual fare – and action movies – it’s a fresh breath of air that operates on an impressive level of silliness: Even an out-of-nowhere ’90s song “Barbie Girl” doesn’t feel out of place.
Liam Neeson stars as a man who turns vigilante when his son is murdered in “Cold Pursuit.”