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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Chris Cortez (10) reacts during Texas A&M’s game against Oregon at the NCAA Bryan-College Station Super Regional at Olsen Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
One step away
June 8, 2024

New dark comedy cuts deep

Photo by Via

Keagan Miller says “Cold Pursuit” is more than just another Liam Neeson action revenge film.

Hans Petter Moland’s “Cold Pursuit” is a thrilling exhibition of black comedy, complete with character development and artful use of omission. This movie is just as good for what it doesn’t show as what it does, making beautiful use of sharp cuts and inferred action that encourages the audience to draw its own conclusions.

Something I didn’t realize before seeing the film is that it’s a remake of a Norwegian film starring Stellan Skarsgård titled “In Order of Disappearance.” Both the Norwegian version and the new American version were directed by the same man. The original was released in 2014.

The story follows Liam Neeson as a father grieving the passing of his son. Officially, the death is listed as an accident, but Neeson’s character believes it was a murder. The ensuing bloodbath is triggered by the father’s investigation into his son’s death and determination to kill everyone who had a hand in it.

However, you probably know all that from the trailers. What the trailers didn’t advertise to the same degree is the film’s incredible capacity for black comedy. For a movie about murder and bloody gang violence, it was hilarious. One exceptionally well-delivered line about Stockholm Syndrome made me laugh out loud in the theater — something I rarely do. “Cold Pursuit” intentionally draws parallels to the Coen Brothers’ black comedy masterpiece “Fargo,” an ambitious comparison that Moland earns.

In addition to the humor, “Cold Pursuit” has real character development. Neeson’s character, Niles Coxman, is literally citizen-of-the-year turned murderer, and the police baffled by the disappearances show just as much humanity. One particularly compelling scene is when Neeson has his lips wrapped around the barrel of a rifle following his son’s death only to be stopped at the last second by the intrusion of one of his son’s old friends. 

Another brings depth to the two small-town police officers. As they stand before a body hanging from a road sign, the 30-year police veteran is seen vomiting while the wide-eyed, eager newbie stares raptly with a slight smile on her face.

The film also makes excellent use of omission to leave some parts of the story to the imagination of the audience. For instance, when Coxman’s son is found dead, the film neglects to show the notification of the family, choosing instead to show a brief shot of the mother, played by Laura Dern, standing out in the snow with nothing but a bathrobe. It shows the consequence of the call but not the notification itself. Everything in the movie is presented as matter-of-fact while the emotions are left to be implied, but that doesn’t signal a lack of emotions, in fact, quite the contrary. Silent snowy vistas and stoic action are interspersed with anger and outrage on behalf of the mob bosses who get caught up in Coxman’s revenge scheme. So even this is interspersed with surprisingly mature yet somehow also innocent observations from the son of the primary mob boss antagonist.

At first glance, “Cold Pursuit” seems like just another Neeson action revenge film, but when you look deeper, it’s so much more. If you like black comedy and you’re not afraid to read between the lines of a movie, “Cold Pursuit” is absolutely the film for you. I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting.


Keagan Miller is a psychology junior and columnist for The Battalion.

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