Released: 8th February
Seen: 8th February

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When I was picking what film to go see this week, I put a poll up on my twitter account to ask what to see out of the multiple options available at my local cinema. The movies available to choose from were On The Basis Of Sex, Cold Pursuit and Ben Is Back. By the end of the poll, it was a tie between Cold Pursuit and Ben Is Back. A randomiser then picked the winner, so it’s not my fault that I went to see Cold Pursuit, it was fate… horrible, horrible fate

Cold Pursuit Liam NeesonCold Pursuit follows Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson), a snowplow driver working in a little remote town where nothing ever happens except for a thriving cocaine trade that his son Kyle (Micheal Richardson) accidentally gets caught up in. When I say ‘get caught up in’ I, of course, mean in the way that ends up with Kyle dead and Nels wanting revenge, because this is a Liam Neeson movie and that’s how those always go nowadays. In his thirst for revenge, Nels could lose everything, his wife, family, possibly his plow, but he will also soon discover that going on a trip with murderous revenge in mind can be a laugh riot.

Cold Pursuit Laura Dern.pngFun fact, I didn’t know when  I walked into this movie that it was a remake of a film called In Order Of Disappearance, which is an oversight on my part and I will endeavour to not let that happen again (even though, as I’ve said before, I shouldn’t need supplemental material in order to make a film make sense). The original film is a black comedy and you can tell that this film is clearly trying to do that too, but for me it never felt like I was laughing with the film. Maybe it’s an intentional style choice that doesn’t work for me, but so much of this felt less like a black comedy and more like an accidental parody of Liam’s previous work that my laughter was filled with derision at what was being presented on the screen as a film. When I walk out of a film and am unsure what genre it was meant to be part of, that concerns me.

Cold Pursuit Police.pngThe acting is beyond phoned in; it’s texted in on a prepaid phone that was made in 1997. This is a film performance that Liam Neeson described using language that basically made him into an internet pariah and forced him to cancel a lot of press for this film… and I’m not even sure if he’s in half of the film. He’s there physically but he certainly doesn’t seem engaged. If this is the performance he gives after thinking about a friend who was raped and how he felt after that… I mean just goddamn, there is nothing there worth watching. Laura Dern has a few scenes and either she was distracted by preparing for season 2 of Big Little Lies or she read the script and realised it was bad because there was nothing good about her performance, which shouldn’t be possible because it’s Laura goddamn Dern. The bad guy in this movie, Tom Bateman, is the only one who seems to be having any sort of fun because he’s chewing scenery and having a blast, which is good because someone involved in the viewing of this film should be having fun.

Cold Pursuit Brother.pngFor the life of me, I couldn’t get a handle on what tone this film was going for. Is it a dark comedy? Absurdist humour? Slapstick? Bad? Bad! Let’s go with bad and inconsistent. I’m not saying that you can’t jump between styles of comedy, some of the best comedies of all time do that but there’s gracefully going from style to style and then there’s just throwing everything at the wall and hoping something sticks. We don’t even get any fun over the top moments like the snow plow being used to kill anyone, it’s all bare hands and guns and that’s it. There’s maybe one moment where it’s hinted that the snow plow might be used to run someone off the road but it never goes there, it’s an afterthought and it lands with a thud.

Cold Pursuit Villain.pngThe editing is so shockingly awful that there were several moments when I wondered if I passed out and just missed a few seconds of film, but nope they just edited it in a blender and thought that would work. It’s hard to describe how bad some of the edits are in text form, but they’re genuinely just hard to watch at times. On top of bad editing, the film thinks it’s artsy and so it decides that every time a character dies that we need to cut to a title card with a symbol representing the person’s religion (which for one person is the peace symbol, because peace is a religion?), their name and their random nickname that literally every character in this film has and it’s apparently meant to be a motif? It’s a bad choice that baffled me.

It’s hard to deny that I laughed during the watching of this film and since it’s a remake of a black comedy that should mean that it’s good right? Well, not really. Sure, I laughed but it never felt like it was laughter brought on because of a good joke or because they did something truly clever. I was laughing at the bad performances, at the poor choices in framing, at weird lines of dialogue that felt less like jokes and more like bad writing. This feels like a bad film that is being repackaged as a comedy, kind of like The Room except not nearly as interesting. I just don’t think it’s a good film, I’ve tried to justify it as an intentional comedy that I just didn’t like but after a while, intentionally trying to look like a bad actor is just being a bad actor. I walked out of this film wondering if Liam didn’t tell that story that created all the controversy to intentionally force a boycott so no one would see this film. The more I think about it, the more that I wonder if maybe it’s just me not liking it and I’m the only one here… but this is my blog, my review, and I didn’t like it because it felt so poorly thought out and doesn’t live up to any of its potential.

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2 thoughts on “Cold Pursuit (2019) – The Plow King

  1. You’re exaggerating but I get it. And not every plot or execution of an idea will appeal to everyone, but 1.5 stars out of 5? What does ACTUAL bad movies get? Raspberry Award winners? Or is your grading a large inverted bell curve where everything either is great or terrible? I actually will agree with you IF you say that you’re only reviewing movies with at least “x” amount of budget, or only movies that seem to be “b-grade” AT WORST. Otherwise, there isn’t enough room (pardon the pun) between a movie like this and some of the all-time worst movies ever captured on film. Like anything from “The Room” (not “Room”) to “Battlefield: Earth” (like from low budget movies that are only noteworthy for being so bad that it approaches entertainment, to well-funded projects that utterly fail with any number of flaws). I really don’t think your scale is reasonable because if “Cold Pursuit” is 1.5, a rating of 0.1 would still be far too high for “Battlefield: Earth”, in relation. I’m not saying I really loved “Cold Pursuit” or anything, but it’s not some movie they’re going to throw on YouTube for free, like they do with ACTUALLY terrible movies. Also, you should take into consideration past events in the real world (like Neeson’s history of revenge movies) BEFORE buying a ticket, but a critic should probably just be evaluating the movie and not the entire cinematic history of a producer, actor or general unrelated themes. This movie was “middle of the road” to me. No massive continuity errors. The acting never made me totally aware I was watching someone act, and the pacing and character development was sufficient. Although this is a personal preference, I would REwatch this up to 3 times before I would pay to see any comic book movie NOT named “The Dark Knight”.

    1. I prefer to think of it as using flowery language, when I want to exaggerate I go all out (I compared Sextuplets to an ancient form of the death penalty where people shat themselves to death and the flies at the body, when I exaggerate I make sure it’s as clear as possible) but truly awful movies would’ve gotten a 0 in this system. Razzie winners… well, depends if they’re enjoyably bad. Trust me, those two films don’t even seem that bad to me anymore(Loqueesha would kick both of their asses when it came to worst)… but you’re right about one thing, there isn’t enough room between a 1.5 and what’s above and below it, that’s why this year I got rid of the rating system altogether.

      Yes, I do grade these things on a curve because you have to. It’d be unfair to judge an amateur film made by a couple of mates to the same standard I grade the Marvel movies, and it’d be unfair to grade the Marvel movies by the same standard I might grade a prestige period drama. That’s the problem with the number thing at the end of these early reviews, they remove all nuance and make it seem like I’m putting Cold Pursuit on the level of something like The Room (which would be unfair… The Room is memorable, it’s been a little over 2 years and the only reason I remember I saw this film is cos I got the email notification about this comment).

      As a critic (or whatever the heck we wanna call me) I have a rule that I will go into a movie as blind as humanly possible because if I need anything else to make the movie better, then them movie is bad. The catch is that’s often impossible, I can’t walk into a Liam Neeson movie without knowing it’s probably the 15th version of Taken, I can’t walk into a Meryl Streep movie without high expectations for her specifically. I try my best to not have preconceptions, but whatever ones I have I try to bring up in the text (they’re usually the first thing brought up in a review so people can know my frame of mind going in).

      So, yeah, you’re right about this being a middle of the road movie and at the time I felt the score reflected that, now I just don’t do scores because if I can’t make it clear if a movie is good, bad or average by just the text of the review then I clearly need to do more improving (and if you compare this to some of my more recent stuff, I like to think I’ve gotten better).

      Thanks for the comment.

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