Cold Pursuit is a 2019 American black comedy action film directed by Hans Petter Moland (in his Hollywood debut) from a screenplay by Frank Baldwin. The film stars Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, William Forsythe, and Tom Bateman. It is a remake of the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten), also directed by Moland, and follows a snowplough driver who sets out for revenge on a local drug lord following the murder of his son.
The film was released in the United States on February 8, 2019, by Summit Entertainment. It has grossed over $62 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the action sequences and the dark humour.
Nelson “Nels” Coxman’s quiet life as a snowplough driver in the glitzy Colorado ski resort of Kehoe, where he was just awarded “Citizen of the Year”, is disrupted when his son dies from a forced heroin overdose. Nels’ wife Grace has a psychotic breakdown over her son’s death and leaves her husband in grief.
A depressed Coxman is about to commit suicide when he learns that his son was murdered by a drug cartel. This causes him to craft a modified hunting rifle, become a vigilante and kill three members of the cartel, sinking their bodies in a nearby river. He gets additional insight into the criminal network from his brother, Brock “Wingman” Coxman, who was once an enforcer for the local cartel. The cartel’s leader, Trevor “Viking” Calcote, suspects that these deaths are the work of Native American drug lord White Bull, with whom he has earlier avoided conflict. Viking abducts and murders White Bull’s only son, which sparks a gang war between the two factions. When Viking contacts Brock about the recent hits, Brock takes responsibility to protect his brother, as he is dying of cancer anyway.
Viking eventually learns that Coxman has killed his men, and tries in vain to call off the gang war by claiming that one of his men killed White Bull’s son on his own initiative, not realising White Bull intends to exact revenge through a blood debt, “a son for a son”. Meanwhile, Coxman kidnaps Viking’s son from his prep school in an attempt to draw the drug lord into an ambush. Despite abducting the boy, Coxman treats him well and avoids putting his life in jeopardy.
Viking’s gang arrive at Coxman’s ambush, which is unsuccessful, and he is captured alive. White Bull’s gang arrives shortly thereafter with the intention of vengeance. During the ensuing shootout, most of the gangsters are killed and Viking is trapped after Coxman drops a shorn tree on his car, and is shot in the chest by White Bull.
Viking dies later when found by Kehoe police Detectives Kimberly Dash and her partner Gip. As Coxman leaves the property in his snowplow to continue his work, White Bull jumps into the cab and the two men drive away together. The last remaining enforcer for White Bull’s cartel accidentally paraglides into the snowplough- having set off on a glide from the hotel where White Bull’s men were staying the night before- and is chopped to bits.
- Liam Neeson as Nelson “Nels” Coxman
- Laura Dern as Grace Coxman, Nels’ wife
- Emmy Rossum as Kimberly “Kim” Dash, a local detective
- Tom Bateman as Trevor “Viking” Calcote, a psychopathic drug lord based in Denver, Colorado
- William Forsythe as Brock “Wingman” Coxman, a former hitman for Viking’s father and Nels Coxman’s brother
- Julia Jones as Aya, a member of the Ute people, Viking’s ex-wife, and the mother of his son
- Domenick Lombardozzi as Mustang, a gay man and senior enforcer for Viking
- Raoul Trujillo as Thorpe, a member of the Ute people and enforcer for White Bull
- Benjamin Hollingsworth as Dexter, an enforcer to Viking and Mustang’s secret lover
- John Doman as Gip, Kim’s partner
- David O’Hara as Sly, an enforcer to Viking
- Aleks Paunovic as Detective Osgard
- Christopher Logan as Shiv
- Nathaniel Arcand as Smoke
- Ben Cotton as Windex
- Tom Jackson as White Bull, a member of the Ute people and rival drug lord to Viking
- Micheál Richardson as Kyle Coxman, Nels’s son.
- Mitchell Saddleback as Avalanche
- Manna Nichols as Minya, a secretary at White Bull’s headquarters
- Arnold Pinnock as The Eskimo, a professional hitman
The participation of actor Liam Neeson, director Hans Petter Moland and producers Michael Shamberg and StudioCanal in making Cold Pursuit was announced in January 2017. In March 2017, Domenick Lombardozzi, Emmy Rossum, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Laura Dern, William Forsythe, Julia Jones, and John Doman joined the cast of the film. The next month, Aleks Paunovic joined.
Principal photography began in March 2017, in Alberta, Canada. Filming also took place in Fernie, British Columbia.While Moland had hoped to shoot in the Banff and Jasper national parks, the permit was denied by Parks Canada, who cited concerns about the film’s environmental impact, and over the depiction of the First Nations gangsters led by Tom Jackson’s character. Jackson provided a letter in support of the project.
In November 2017, Summit Entertainment acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film. It was released on February 8 in the United States, and is scheduled for February 22 in the United Kingdom.
The film’s February 5, 2019 red carpet premiere was cancelled because of comments made by Neeson the previous day, regarding a past incident in his life, which many interpreted as racist.
The film will be released on Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital download in the United States in May 14, 2019 by Lionsgate Films. The (Region A) Blu-ray is released as a 2-disc Blu-ray and DVD package. Studio Canal will release it in the United Kingdom on June 24, 2019.
Cold Pursuit has grossed $32.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $30.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $62.6 million, against a production budget of $60 million.
In the United States and Canada, Cold Pursuit was released alongside What Men Want, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and The Prodigy, and was projected to gross $7–10 million from 2,630 theaters in its opening weekend.It made $3.6 million on its first day, including $540,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $11 million, finishing third, behind The Lego Movie 2 and What Men Want. In its second weekend the film fell 45% to $6 million, finishing sixth, and then $3.3 million in its third weekend, finishing eighth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 70% based on 151 reviews, with an average rating of 6.22/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Cold Pursuit delivers the action audiences expect from a Liam Neeson thriller — along with humor and a sophisticated streak that make this an uncommonly effective remake.”On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 38 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B–” on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 3 out of 5 stars and a 42% “definite recommend”.
Chris Nashawaty, writing for Entertainment Weekly, delivered a positive review, grading it a “B+” and saying: “If [Cold Pursuit] sounds like murder-by-numbers Liam Neeson Mad Libs, well, it kind of is. But what sets Cold Pursuit apart from its predecessors is its tone. It has the jokey, self-amused vibe of an Elmore Leonard novel or one of those arch, wannabe Tarantino knock-offs that sprouted up like toadstools in the wake of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and were quickly forgotten. It knows exactly what kind of movie it is, but that doesn’t stand in the way of it goosing its bloodbath set pieces with irreverent, off-kilter gallows humor.”Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, praised the film, awarding it 3.5 out of 4 stars, and saying, “As characters with nicknames such as Sly and Mustang and Smoke and War Dog and Shiv and Drayno enter and often quickly exit the picture, Cold Pursuit moves forward with the assured and deliberate force of Nels’ massive snowplow. And with Neeson/Nels at the wheel, Cold Pursuit is one fantastically hot mess of a movie.”
Liam Neeson was accused of racism after an interview with The Independent at a press junket for the film, published in February 2019. Neeson explained his character’s “primal” anger to the interviewer by recounting an experience he had many years ago. A woman close to him said she had been raped by a stranger, and Neeson asked what color skin the attacker had; after learning the attacker was black, Neeson said that for about a week, he “went up and down areas with a cosh … hoping some ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go” so that Neeson “could kill him”. In the interview, Neeson also said he was “ashamed” to recount the experience and that it was “horrible” that he did what he did. “It’s awful … but I did learn a lesson from it, when I eventually thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing?'”
In an appearance on Good Morning America, Neeson elaborated on his experience while denying being a racist, saying the incident occurred nearly 40 years ago, that he asked for physical attributes of the rapist other than race, that he would have done the same if the rapist was “a Scot or a Brit or a Lithuanian”, that he had purposely gone into “black areas of the city”, and that he “did seek help” from a priest after coming to his senses. Neeson said that the lesson of his experience was “to open up, to talk about these things”, as there was still underlying “racism and bigotry” in both the United States and Northern Ireland. The controversy Neeson’s comments caused led to the cancellation of the red carpet event for the premiere of Cold Pursuit.
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- Cold Pursuit Blu-ray | United States | Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy Lionsgate Films | 2019 | 119 min | Rated R | May 14, 2019
- Cold Pursuit Blu-Ray | United Kingdom | Studio Canal | 2019 | 119 min | Rated BBFC: 15 | Jun 24, 2019
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