Cold Pursuit (2019)

*. Cold Pursuit is a remake of the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance. It’s a very close remake, with the differences being mainly cosmetic. The Serbian gang are now Native Americans, for example. About the only substantive difference I noticed was that the gangster’s estranged wife doesn’t get beat up this time around. Instead she grabs him by the balls. I guess the message is that American women are tougher than their Norwegian counterparts, but I doubt that’s actually true.
*. I liked In Order of Disappearance, but didn’t think of it as a movie crying out for a remake. That it was given an English-language makeover so quickly says something about how hard up Hollywood is for such properties. This is surprising, given how generic a plot it is.
*. Luckily, it’s a good remake. One thing that I think helped is that the original wasn’t a specifically Norwegian or European gangster film. It’s not like some J-horror movies that just don’t translate when you move them to the U.S. In fact, the first time around writer-director Hans Petter Moland was consciously aiming to make a Tarantino-style movie, so moving things to Colorado (or British Columbia and Alberta, where most of it was shot) wasn’t transplanting the original story so much as bringing it back home.
*. Leaving Moland at the helm was also a good idea, as he had a clearer idea of the sort of tone he was trying to set. Aside from that, however, I wonder how interesting a director finds such an exercise. I mean, basically he was turning around and making the exact same movie just a couple of years later. Shouldn’t it be better the second time? You’d think he would have a pretty good idea of what had worked before and what hadn’t.
*. Unfortunately the film was snakebit coming out of the starting gate because Liam Neeson gave a disastrous press interview while promoting it. This killed it at the box office. I think it might have gone on to find an audience, as it’s better than most if not all of Neeson’s previous action work (can you separate any of the Taken movies in your head? distinguish between Non-Stop and The Commuter?). I don’t think the public had grown tired of him playing such roles yet, and it’s a bit sad to see him go out on such a relatively high note because of a publicity faux pas.
*. Comparisons are not to Cold Pursuit‘s favour. Neeson is good, but I didn’t think he was an improvement on Stellan Skarsgård. Tom Bateman’s gang boss is fine, but Pål Sverre Hagen was better as the nasty dandy. Tom Jackson doesn’t project any of the slightly deranged menace of Bruno Ganz. Laura Dern has all of about three lines before disappearing.
*. Aside from the cast there’s not much new to say here as not much new is attempted. I was hoping they’d do something more with the snow plow, but there wasn’t room for that much variation. The only chance for showing some creativity comes in the way the various kills are artistically arranged. A man’s bloody corpse falls into a rack of white wedding gowns. Another is shot through a twenty-dollar bill. Another collapses into a deflating sofa. These are all meant to get a smile, and they do. Also smile-worthy are some of the musical cues.
*. It’s a decent little movie that has some fun with various conventions. I guess the story was good enough to be worth retelling, as I found it more than watchable enough even knowing in advance how it all was going to play out. It’s no better than it was the first time around, but I wouldn’t say it’s any worse either. It’s pretty much the same movie with a different cast and in English. Sure I would have liked something more, but I wasn’t expecting to get it and was happy enough with this.


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