It has NOT been a good week for actor Liam Neeson who has seemingly torpedoed his own film right during the week of its release. If you haven’t heard, earlier this week In an interview with The Independent, Liam Neeson revealed that when he was younger, a female friend of his was raped by who she said was a black man, which led to Neeson having violent, racist thoughts about killing a “black bastard” as a result.
“She handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way,” Neeson says. “But my immediate reaction was…” There’s a pause. “I asked, did she know who it was? No. What colour were they? She said it was a black person.
“I went up and down areas with a cosh, hoping I’d be approached by somebody – I’m ashamed to say that – and I did it for maybe a week, hoping some [Neeson gestures air quotes with his fingers] ‘black bastard’ would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, you know? So that I could,” another pause, “kill him.”
“It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that. She would say, ‘Where are you going?’ and I would say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk.’ You know? ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘No no, nothing’s wrong.’”
While the context of Liam’s regret for his past actions was largely removed from the reporting of the story, it simply wasn’t a smart idea to talk about a racially charged story in the day and age of a media whose looking for racially charged encounters to highlight and showcase. Just like that, all media appearances including the films own premiere was canceled as Summit Entertainment was forced to anchor down and pray that the controversy wouldn’t kill the film’s chances recovering it’s 60 million dollar production budget.
Well, let’s talk about the film in question, Cold Pursuit. Liam Neeson stars as a snowplow driver named Nelson Coxman. One night in a small Colorado town, his son is randomly murdered by drug dealers who made the murder look like a drug overdose. After getting a lead on a killer, Nelson takes the law into his own hands and avenges his son’s death. But instead of stopping at the man who killed him, he decides to take out everyone in the organization including the charismatic leader…Viking.
The story is exactly pretty good and there are a lot of colorful and memorable characters. Tom Bateman’s performance as Trevor “Viking” Calcote is great as he is essentially a Punisher villain (not a ‘Netflix Punisher’ villain a REAL Punisher villain). The character is a complete prick but he is an entertaining one and he makes for a good bad guy. There is a lot of dark humor to the film which is pretty enjoyable, dealing with a laundry list of criminals, there aren’t many people to feel sorry for, especially one untrustworthy person who makes a point to single out his distaste for Kanye West’s music (I wonder why…). The cinematography of Philip Øgaard is stellar as you will need a warm blanket looking at the beauty of small-town Colorado (despite the film actually being shot in Canada).
The big problem with the film comes in the 2nd act where the story gets more complicated than it needs to be. The introduction of the Native American gang bloats the plot to the point the film clearly begins to lose focus on our main character and his struggle. Cold Pursuit is a black comedy film that sadly has an asterisk attached to it due to its lead star’s comments but the film is worth the time of a viewing audience willing to look past his boneheaded comments.