A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cold Pursuit is a thriller/dark comedy starring Liam Neeson as a man seeking revenge for his son's death. It's very violent, with punching and hitting, guns and shooting, and lots and lots of blood. Much of the violence is tinged with a comic tone. There's some sex-related dialogue, and a secondary character tries to seduce waitresses and hotel maids, sometimes by lying in bed naked with money covering his genitals. A married couple kisses, offscreen, for a long time. Language is very strong, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," the "N" word, and more. Secondary characters are drug dealers, and cocaine, pot smoking, and cigarettes are shown. Characters also drink in bars/socially. A remake of a 2014 Norwegian movie, this one is quite a bit smarter, and stranger, than the usual Neeson revenge movie. It also plays around with audience reactions to death, which makes it most appropriate for older teens and up.
- Parents say
- Kids say
Clever and brutal Neeson flick that deals with revenge as usual, but takes it a step further by implementing humorous elements. Mature audiences only!
What's the story?
In COLD PURSUIT, Nelson Coxman (Liam Neeson) makes his living driving a snowplow in the mountain ski resort town of Kehoe; he even receives a "Citizen of the Year" award for his efforts. But then his teen son is found dead, the autopsy indicating a drug overdose. Nelson is certain that his son didn't use drugs, so he sets out to find the truth. After a trail of dead bodies, Nelson finds his target: a slick, dangerous, well-protected drug lord called "Viking" (Tom Bateman). Meanwhile, Viking is trying to discover who's killing all his henchmen; he blames rival drug lord White Bull (Tom Jackson) and inadvertently starts a turf war. Nelson goes to his brother/former partner in crime "Wingman" (William Forsythe) for help and eventually forms a plan to get to Viking. But a fresh-faced police officer (Emmy Rossum) is also on the trail, trying to make sense of the whole mess.
Is it any good?
This bloody, deceptive thriller starts out like yet another one of Neeson's revenge movies, but it subtly switches into a very dark comedy that asks us to consider our various reactions to death. Cold Pursuit was directed by Hans Petter Moland; it's a remake of his own 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance for American audiences. It feels like he's iterating to achieve perfection, tone- and style-wise. For instance, something feels odd when Nelson and his wife (Laura Dern) go to identify their son's body and must wait awkwardly while a morgue worker pumps a foot pedal again and again to raise the corpse to viewing height.
The scene is sad, but it also inspires laughter. Moland allows time for viewers to experience both feelings, and then ask themselves "why did I react like that?" The whip-smart movie balances a large array of characters, and each is treated with respect, with the realization that everyone has his or her own feelings. Viking is a slick, selfish villain who's appalling in many ways but also logical; the scenes in which he attempts to relate to his young son are both ridiculous and touching. The movie's biggest flaw is that it keeps all these balls -- characters, humor, and pathos -- in the air for a long time, and it can get exhausting. But for the majority of its running time, Cold Pursuit is surprising, bracing grown-up entertainment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Cold Pursuit's violence. How did you react to the various killings and deaths in the movie? Did you laugh? Were you moved? What caused these reactions?
What's the appeal of revenge stories? What does revenge achieve?
- In theaters: February 8, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: May 14, 2019
- Cast: Liam Neeson, Emmy Rossum, Laura Dern, Tom Bateman
- Director: Hans Petter Moland
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong violence, drug material, and some language including sexual references
- Last updated: July 16, 2020
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