Nels Coxman, a snowplow driver recently awarded as the citizen of the year, triggers a series of violence and misunderstandings between two rival gangs after he starts avenging his son's death.
ActorsStarring: Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Micheál Richardson, Michael Eklund, Bradley Stryker, Wesley MacInnes, Tom Bateman, Tom Jackson, Emmy Rossum, Domenick Lombardozzi, Julia Jones, John Doman, William Forsythe, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Jim Shield, Aleks Paunovic, Glenn Ennis, Chris Cook, Venus Terzo, Dani Alvarado, Michael Adamthwaite, Elizabeth Thai, David O'Hara, Gus Halper, Elysia Rotaru, Kyle Nobess, Victor Zinck Jr., Raoul Max Trujillo, Nathaniel Arcand, Glen Gould, Christopher Logan, Bart Anderson, Gary Sekhon, Arnold Pinnock, Ben Cotton, Emily Maddison, Glenn Wrage, Michael Bean, Ben Sullivan, Travis MacDonald, Loretta Walsh, Nels Lennarson, Max Montesi, Peter Strand Rumpel, Nick Holmes
A handful of directors are members of an exclusive club: those who make a US version of their own European movie. The most well-known, and most successful, is Hitchcock who remade his 1934 UK version of The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1956, this time in the US with James Stewart and Doris Day, and he achieved more acclaim for this remake. Less successful was Dutch director George Sluizer, who remade his 1988 Dutch classic Spoorloos (Vanishing) into 1993’s The Vanishing with Jeff Bridges and Kiefer Sutherland: he lost the bleak power of the original by, along with overall ‘Americanisation’, going for a Hollywood-style happy ending which deflated the entire movie.
Cold Pursuit then, is a remake by Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland of his 2014 original Kraftidioten, or In Order of Disappearance. Upping the production budget from $4m for the original to $60m for the remake, Stellan Skarsgård is replaced by Liam Neeson.
Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a snowplough driver who loses his son to a drug overdose. Convinced his son wasn’t a druggie, Coxman sets out to find out what happened and soon finds himself in a world of drugs, turf wars, and revenge. He takes no prisoners and the body count steadily increases as the plot thickens and bad guy The Viking (Tom Bateman) turns up the heat to find him.
The action has moved from the freezing cold of Norway to the frozen landscapes of Colorado (even though the movie was filmed in the Canadian Rockies, Vancouver, BC, and Vancouver Island) and Serbian drug lord Papa (Bruno Ganz) has been replaced by a native Indian one called White Bull (Tom Jackson). But overall, the plot is pretty similar to the original; why then doesn’t it quite work?
Neeson has done these kind of roles for decades – ‘regular’ guy finds himself in a situation requiring plenty of violence to resolve – and maybe that works against him here: you know what kind of guy you can expect Neeson’s Coxman to be, whereas Skarsgård was simply more credible as a regular guy. More importantly, there seem to be too many minor characters in Cold Pursuit that get airtime whilst adding nothing to the plot; although sometimes funny, it seems to be overdone. As the movie progresses it loses more and more darkness in its comedy angle and just seems to try too hard.
Unlike the original, which comes in at pretty much the same length, Cold Pursuit feels too long, with too many distractions in an attempt to be funny, and whilst the ending is pretty much the same as the original, it somehow has no impact.
Oh, Laura Dern is also in the movie for a bit as Neeson’s wife, a marginal role which she is completely wasted on, and while Emmy Rossum works hard to recreate a Fargo vibe in her policewoman role, it never quite works.
The movie is watchable, with some lovely landscape shots by the same cinematographer as the original (Philip Øgaard), but in the end it is a very forgettable flick. I would clearly recommend the original over this version.