Cold Pursuit is a 2019 action thriller film directed by Hans Petter Moland from a screenplay by Frank Baldwin. A British-American co-production, the film stars Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman, and Laura Dern. It is a remake of the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten), also directed by Moland, and follows a vengeful snowplow driver who starts killing the members of a drug cartel following the murder of his son.
|Directed by||Hans Petter Moland|
|Written by||Frank Baldwin|
|Based on||In Order of Disappearance|
by Kim Fupz Aakeson
|Edited by||Nicolaj Monberg|
|Music by||George Fenton|
|Distributed by||Lionsgate (International)|
StudioCanal (France, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand)
|Box office||$76.3 million|
The film was released in the United States on February 8, 2019, by Summit Entertainment. It grossed $76 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised Neeson’s performance, the action sequences and the dark humor.
After being awarded "Citizen of the Year" by the fictional ski resort of Kehoe, Colorado, snowplow driver Nels Coxman's quiet life is disrupted when his son dies from a forced heroin overdose. Nels' wife Grace leaves her husband in grief. He is about to commit suicide when he learns that his son was murdered by a Denver drug cartel. He decides to seek vigilante justice, makes a sawed-off rifle, and kills three members of the cartel, dumping their bodies in a nearby river.
The cartel's psychopathic leader, drug lord Trevor "Viking" Calcote, first suspects that these deaths are the work of his rival White Bull, an Ute with whom he has so far avoided conflict. Viking has one of Bull's gangsters murdered, not knowing it is White Bull's only son. This drives White Bull to seek "a son for a son", and he orders his men to kidnap Viking's young son.
Nels seeks advice from his brother Brock, once a mob enforcer known as "Wingman", and learns about Viking. Brock tells Nels that killing Viking requires a hired assassin, and he recommends a transplanted African-American hitman known as "The Eskimo." The Eskimo agrees to kill Viking for $90,000, but decides he can get another $90,000 from Viking by informing him that "Coxman" has hired him for the hit. Viking does not appreciate the Eskimo's "lack of professional ethics" and kills him. He thinks the Eskimo meant Brock Coxman, and he takes Brock for his "last ride." Since Brock is dying of rectal cancer, he claims responsibility for the hits to protect his brother.
Viking tries in vain to stop the gang war by using one of his own men as a scapegoat and sending White Bull the man's head. This is insufficient to placate White Bull, who shoots the messenger. Meanwhile, Nels kidnaps Viking's son from his prep school before White Bull's men can do so, in order to draw Viking into an ambush. Nels treats the boy well and protects him from the violence to come.
Nels' identity is revealed to Viking by the prep school's janitor. Though promised $10,000 for the tip, he too is killed after his disclosure.
Both gangs arrive at Nels' workplace, and most of them are killed in the ensuing shootout. Viking, attempting to drive away, is trapped when Nels uses heavy machinery to impale Viking's car with a shorn tree trunk, allowing White Bull to shoot Viking in the chest. He dies when found by Kehoe police detectives Kimberly Dash and Gip. As Nels leaves the property in his snowplow to continue his work, White Bull jumps into the cab, and the two men drive away together. Bull's last remaining enforcer, who had set off on a paraglide flight from the ski resort hotel where the gang stayed the night before, accidentally lands directly in the snowplow's path and is killed.
- Liam Neeson as Nels Coxman
- Tom Bateman as Trevor "Viking" Calcote
- Tom Jackson as White Bull Legrew
- Emmy Rossum as Kim Dash, a Kehoe police officer
- Domenick Lombardozzi as Mustang, a senior enforcer for Viking
- Julia Jones as Aya, Viking's Ute former wife and mother of his son
- John Doman as John "Gip" Gipsky, Kim's partner
- Laura Dern as Grace, Nels' wife
- Aleks Paunovic as Detective Osgard
- William Forsythe as Brock "Wingman" Coxman, former hitman for Viking's father
- Raoul Trujillo as Giles "Thorpe" Wills, a member of the Ute people and enforcer for White Bull
- Benjamin Hollingsworth as Tycho "Dexter" Hammel, an enforcer for Viking and Mustang's secret lover
- Michael Eklund as Steve "Speedo" Milliner
- Bradley Stryker as Jacob "Limbo" Rutman
- David O'Hara as Gallum "Sly" Ferrante, an enforcer for Viking
- Christopher Logan as Ameet "Shiv" Anand
- Nathaniel Arcand as Fredrick "Smoke" Alycott
- Ben Cotton as Timothy "Windex" Denois
- Micheál Richardson as Kyle Coxman, Nels's son
- Mitchell Saddleback as Clement "Avalanche" Skenadore
- Manna Nichols as Minya, a secretary at White Bull's headquarters
- Arnold Pinnock as Leighton "The Eskimo" Deeds
- Wesley MacInnes as Dante Ferstel
- Elysia Rotaru as Diner Waitress
- Nicholas Holmes as Ryan Calcote, Viking's son
- Michael Adamthwaite as Jeff "Santa" Christensen
- Elizabeth Thai as Ahn, Brock's wife
- Gus Halper as Anton "Bone" Dinckel
- Kyle Nobess as Simon "Baby Hawk" Legrew, White Bull's son
- Glen Gould as Duane "War Dog" Michell
- Glenn Wrage as Kurt (voice)
- Michael Bean as Parson
- Nels Lennarson as Chuck Schalm, the janitor at Ryan's school
The participation of actor Liam Neeson, director Hans Petter Moland and producers Michael Shamberg and StudioCanal in making the film, originally titled Hard Powder, 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 Vancouver and Fernie, British Columbia, and around Winnipeg and Gimli, Manitoba. While Moland had hoped to shoot in the Banff and Jasper national parks, the permit was denied by Parks Canada, which 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. Its title was changed from Hard Powder to Cold Pursuit, and it was released on February 8, 2019 in the United States, and 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 was released on Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital download in the United States on May 14, 2019 by Lionsgate Films. The (Region A) Blu-ray is released as a 2-disc Blu-ray and DVD package. Studio Canal released it in the United Kingdom on June 24, 2019.
Cold Pursuit grossed $32.1 million in the United States and Canada, and $44.1 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $76.2 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 website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 69% based on 182 reviews, with an average rating of 6.21/10. 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." It was also included in the site's list of the best action films of 2019. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 57 out of 100, based on 39 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+":
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.
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 of Neeson's comments led to the cancellation of the red carpet event for the premiere of the film.
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