Cold Pursuit [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (11th October 2019).
The Film

After experiencing a late-career resurgence as an instrument of vengeance, Liam Neeson seemed to be content getting typecast in the same Charles Bronson-esque role over and over, much to the delight of paying audiences. Beginning with “Taken” (2008), nearly every picture of his since has been marketed with the same slant – even if that isn’t the case. It would be easy to assume “Cold Pursuit” (2019) is no different, as the basic premise is Neeson’s character looking to get revenge on drug dealers for his son’s murder. That much is true, but what the trailers can’t easily sell are the film’s Scandinavian sensibilities and off-kilter humor, both of which come courtesy of director Hans Petter Moland, making an American debut by remaking his own 2014 Norwegian film, “In Order of Disappearance”.

Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson) is a snowplow driver in the city of Kehoe, Colorado, a quiet town that recently awarded him the honor of “Citizen of the Year”. Nels lives in a modest cabin with his wife, Grace (Laura Dern), and their son, Kyle (Micheál Richardson). One otherwise normal afternoon, Kyle is found dead in Denver, the victim of a heroin overdose – which, according to Nels, is impossible because Kyle never did drugs. The death rips apart Nels’ marriage and leads him to suicide, but he’s convinced out of it when he learns Kyle’s death was no accident. It seems Kyle ran afoul of some low level drug dealers who report to someone named “Viking” – really Trevor Calcote (Tom Bateman), a fastidious drug lord with his own set of domestic issues.

Nels goes into revenge mode, fashioning his own sawed-off shotgun and taking down a few of Viking’s men before he starts to notice his squad thinning. Assuming these disappearances must be the work of White Bull (Tom Jackson), an old family rival, Viking orders his men to kill one of their men – and so begins a bloody gang war amongst this sleepy Colorado town, the sole responsibility of one man who wanted nothing more than to get some closure for his son’s death.

If this film had originated in America, I highly doubt the humor would work nearly as well, or even at all. The masses want everything to be inane and stupid for stupid’s sake. The self-deprecating and self-aware tones of this film, along with a gallows humor, give the straight-played comedy a sharper edge than most. The ensemble cast is large, too, and rather than provide dozens of faceless thugs Moland gives nearly each one enough personality so their eventual deaths have some kind of meaning. Neeson is unintentionally hilarious because his character is so brazen in his messy attempt to get revenge. Two of Viking’s closest men are, unknown to him, in a relationship. A black hitman is called “The Eskimo”. A Ute gangster threatens a hotel staffer… with a bad Yelp review. The humor is often quick, both visual and verbal, and it requires a keen attention to detail to spot all of it.

As a fan of gorgeous vistas and seeing nature in HD, the Philip Øgaard’s cinematography is exquisite, showing off the beauty of British Columbia, Canada where the film was shot. The environment feels cold and sparse, yet Moland and Øgaard situate their characters in comfortable places that feel warmer and more inviting than the barren surroundings. The film has a strong, crisp aesthetic that nicely complements the story.

While the humor might be too weird for some, “Cold Pursuit” is consistently engaging thanks to myriad characters that are given some level of depth and a sly script that brings together a number of the town’s low-lying nefarious neighbors for some bursts of remarkable violence. Although elements of this film are consistent with Neeson’s recent output, this should not be lumped in with most of that forgettable fodder.

Video

The 4K image (upscaled from a 2K DI) features a 2.39:1 2160p HEVC picture that is hard to knock, with a rich, refined color palette and razor-sharp detailing throughout. The wintry landscape looks organic and frigid, with bright white blooms of snow almost blinding at times. Minute texture details, like the individual fur hairs lining the inside of a jacket, are clearly evident. The image remains clear under the cover of night, too, with some nice details visible in the even lowest lighting. A direct comparison to the accompanying Blu-ray was not made, but it’s hard to imagine it being anything less than stellar. Being an upscale, improvements on this 4K release may be minimal but nevertheless there are almost always minor upgrades when resolution is increased. This is a solid presentation that should please all.

Audio

The English Dolby Atmos track (down mixed to Dolby TrueHD 7.1 if you’re unable to decode Atmos) makes great use of the available speakers to guide viewers with discreetly placed effects and a strong sense of direction. Dialogue is expectedly clear and clean at all times. Composer George Fenton’s score is quirky and befitting of the film, with plenty of folk music instrumentation. The film’s action-heavy scenes feature robust gunfire and roaring car engines, among other heavy effects. There is also a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound track included. Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.

Extras

DISC ONE: 4K UltraHD

“Welcome to Kehoe: Behind the Scenes of Cold Pursuit” (1080p) is a featurette that runs for 26 minutes and 49 seconds; this is an EPK-style piece with interviews and on-set footage.

“Interview with Liam Neeson” (1080p) featurette runs for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

“Interview with Hans Petter Moland” (1080p) featurette runs for 8 minutes and 20 seconds.

A handful of deleted scenes (1080p) run for a total of 5 minutes and 23 seconds.

The film’s theatrical trailer (1080p) runs for 1 minute and 9 seconds.

DISC TWO: Blu-ray

High definition version of the film with the same extras repeated here.

A digital copy is included.

Packaging

The two-disc set includes both a 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray disc, each on a hub opposite the other. A slip-cover houses the case.

Overall

Filled with black humor and featuring an atypical gangster story, “Cold Pursuit” is so far one of my favorite 2019 releases and a film that was underrated and mostly ignored on release. Hopefully, this handsome 4K release from Lionsgate will get more home video enthusiasts to give it a spin

The Film: B+ Video: A Audio: A- Extras: B- Overall: B+

 


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