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Movie Review: “Cold Pursuit”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 2/8/2019

Theatrical Release: 2/8/2019

Synopsis

Nels (Liam Neeson) thought he and his son were close, and when his son dies from a heroin overdose, it sends Nels on a whirlwind of emotions. After the shocking death of his son, Nels endures the grief that any parent would, but this is coupled by the fact that he knows his son was not a druggy. He knows there is something more sinister that surrounds his sons death, but he is a simple snow plow driver, and has no way of finding answers.

Just as Nels is about to give up, he is contacted by someone who knows what happened to his son. Nels learns that his son was killed by someone in the local heroin organization. He does not know the extent of what his son got himself caught up in. What he does have is the alias of the man who killed his son, as well as the place that the killer likes to hang out. Nels has a name and he has a location, but his search for answers may get him stuck in the middle of something bigger, and it may turn him into a very different man.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Liam Neeson (+6pts)

Viking (-5pts)

The Action & The Humor (+8pts)

Laura Dern (-3pts)

The Turf War (+5pts)

Raising Viking’s Son (-4pts)

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Pro: Liam Neeson (+6pts)

I do not have a whole lot to say here, but Liam Neeson was very obviously a perfect choice for the lead role of this movie. He does a great job of balancing the line between being an action badass and being a likeable main character. I will get into the combination of humor and action a bit later, but Liam Neeson was a great pick for this movie’s unique tone. We have all seen him play the action badass before, and we have seen him pop up in comedies as well, but I cannot think of any movie in which he did the two together. While I would not go as far as to call this a comedy, there was definitely plenty of humor here. Throughout the movie Liam Neeson blended the two well, and was both charismatic and relatable the entire time, which made the character easy to get invested in. I am not going to say that this was an incredibly complex role, because it definitely was not, but Liam Neeson was a great choice for it.

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Con: Viking (-5pts)

Viking was the movie’s primary antagonist and was, in my opinion, the worst part of the movie. I do not know if it was the actor or the director that was responsible for this, but the character was played in a way that made it feel like he was in a cartoon. He had a cartoonish “bad guy” voice, but that was not the worst thing about him—although it was certainly annoying. What I hated about this character the most was how unbelievably unlikable he was. From the way he parented his son to the way he treated pretty much everyone around him, the guy was just a complete a-hole. I am all for making bad guys unlikable sometimes, but this character was too unbelievable. He was just your generic bad guy, and it made him pretty uninteresting.

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Pro: The Action & The Humor (+8pts)

Again, we have all seen Liam Neeson in action movies before. This movie had all the great action that you would expect, as well as a few surprises, but the movie had some extra flavor as well. That extra flavor was the humor, which was pretty cheesy at times, but it worked well for the movie. Some of the comedy poked fun at the idea of Nels being a normal man who started killing people. Other comedic moments came from simply having silly interactions between some characters. The comedy was cheesy, but the action and the tone were always dark and gritty, which let the action and comedy complement each other really well.

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Con: Laura Dern (-3pts)

Laura Dern played Grace, who was a shockingly useless character in this story. She was married to Nels and was understandably distraught over the death of her son. Unfortunately, the filmmakers went absolutely nowhere with the character. She just got upset when her son died and that was it. There was no character development, and there was no conclusion to her story. The character was even absent from the latter three quarters of the movie.

Then there was the ridiculous letter she left for Nels. I believe the letter she left was intended as a joke—by the filmmakers and to the audience—but it came across as dumb and it was evident that the filmmakers had no idea what to do with her part of the story. Grace was a useless character that was pointless in the beginning of the story and completely absent from the rest of it. This was pretty disappointing considering the fact that the filmmakers got Laura Dern for the role. At the end of the day, the movie probably would have been better off if it just started with Nels as a single parent.

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Pro: The Turf War (+5pts)

This was an element of the story that I was not expecting, as it was not obvious from the trailer. The movie was a lot more complicated than a simple revenge story, and that was a good thing, because we have seen simple revenge stories many times before, and we have seen Liam Neeson in the lead role of a few of those stories many times before. This movie switched it up by putting the main character’s revenge mission right in the middle of a turf war between two very powerful drug lords. This element of the story was crucial in making this story feel unpredictable, which kept me watching it intently.

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Con: Raising Viking’s Son (-4pts)

This was an aspect of the story that got what I thought was too much focus. I have already talked about my issues with the character of Viking, so I will not get into that again, but the filmmakers decided to show Viking and his ex-wife struggling to find compromise when raising their child. Yes, in a revenge story where Liam Neeson goes around killing people in the middle of a deadly feud between two drug lords, the filmmakers decided to spend a good portion of screen time showing a debate on how to properly raise Viking’s son. This could have worked if Viking was an interesting character, but as I mentioned before, he was far from it. I did like the boy, and the actress who played his mother (Julia Jones) did a good job, but this whole storyline felt like a big waste of screen time.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

movie-review-cold-pursuit

Grade: B- (82pts)

This movie kind of came out of nowhere for me. I knew and heard nothing about the movie until seeing a few adds only days before the movie’s release date. After having seen the movie, I can safely say that I enjoyed it. It did have its problems, with an antagonist that felt like he was ripped straight out of a cartoon, and a storyline involving the antagonist’s child that I thought had no place in this movie. On top of that, Laura Dern’s character was one of the most surprisingly useless characters that I have seen in a long time, but there was enough about the movie that I enjoyed.

The movie had what you would expect from a Liam Neeson action movie, but it had some extra flavor as well. It had plenty of humor, and it was also a dark revenge story set in the middle of a turf war between two drug lords. I do not want to give you the impression that this was an action packed movie, but there was certainly enough of it, and the action was always good when it was happening. The action blended really well with this style of comedy, and Liam Neeson was an obviously perfect choice for the lead role. Cold Pursuit is not a movie that anyone should be rushing to see, but I had a good time watching it.

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