4 March 2019

Snow Country For Old Men

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I know that they say that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but I reckon that telling a journalist that you once wanted to cosh an innocent “black bastard” to death is probably taking a risk. Cold Pursuit is the movie in which Liam Neeson was allowed to open his mouth, and like a cat shitting glitter we all just stood around and screamed, “what the fuck is coming out of him?!” Many argued that Neeson was a racist and should be 'cancelled' as though he's a fucking subscription channel, whereas others figured that, 'meh, no harm, no foul'. Personally, I take the not-so-nuanced view that wanting to batter a black man to death is probably a little bit racist in the way that jabbing a screwdriver into your eyes might be a little bit fucking dangerous. However, that's not to say that I think that Neeson himself is a racist. Based on the shame that he claimed to feel, and the way in which he volunteered the story out of nowhere, I think that Neeson has evolved to the point that he understands how abhorrent his actions were. I also think that society would be better off learning from a person's mistakes instead of shutting them down for admitting them. What made a person think that was the right way to act and what changed their mind? Isn't that a more interesting discussion than simply whether or not Neeson still deserves a career? I mean, have you fucking seen Taken? He was pushing it with that shitty fucking franchise alone.

Either way, I guess that I'm not going to be a particularly prominent voice in this debate and so we may as well crack on with talking about his film. Don't think that I'm claiming Neeson deserves credit for his bravery of opening up either by the way, as I think he was just too stupid to see there might be a backlash. I just figured that to talk about Cold Pursuit without mentioning the controversy would be like talking about the internet and not mentioning that it has porn on it. As the years go by, that'll basically be all anybody remembers about it anyway. Also, his career should be dictated by the economy more than it should the online rage of the Twitter mob. If you can't get past his comments then don't go and pay money to see his films, and if you can then, in all honesty, I'd still recommend some caution. I think the last movie I saw him in was The Commuter in which he remade Taken but on a train and somehow made it even duller than my actual journey to work. You can imagine how sceptical we all were too when this movie was announced and it seemed to be a remake of Taken but on a fucking snowplough. I mean, there wasn't a single hint of frost in his most famous revenge trilogy and yet I was already feeling colder than a snowman's bollocks towards them.

This time, Neeson plays Nels Coxman which is a name only slightly more subtle than Jimmy McPenis and once again he's on the rampage after his child was wronged by a gang of criminals. At some point, you just have to ask if instead of being about a man that's good at revenge, perhaps his films are actually just about people that make shitty parents? Except if we're learning anything about Neeson it's that you never quite know when he's going to say or do something unexpected and Cold Pursuit just happens to be one of those times. A few years ago the internet dubbed his The Grey 'Liam Neeson – Wolf Puncher' only for the film to be a Herzogian exercise in despair and very little fucking wolf punching. Well, like The Grey, Cold Pursuit is so much fucking more than you might assume because it's just so fucking weird. In Taken he'll kill a miscellaneous goon before moving on to the next one and yet in this movie, the goons have almost as much screen time as he does. Whether it's a greedy hitman, two gay bodyguards, or a member of the cartel that moonlights in a bridal shop, almost everybody he kills has a quirk to them. They also tend to get a couple of scenes in which we get to know their lives and philosophical outlook before having their brains punched out. It's honestly like somebody was told to make another Taken but only after they'd watched Linklater's Slacker on a loop until their fucking eyes bled.

Cold Pursuit is also completely aware of how ridiculous the whole story is too as it plays the rapidly increasing body count for laughs. At one point Neeson kidnaps the villains' own child only to have that child fall asleep on him after reading him a bedtime story. The fucking kid even has the self-awareness of his own situation to look up and ask, “Have you heard of Stockholm syndrome?” before nodding off. Cold Pursuit is the kind of darkly comic crime movie that an idiot would refer to as being Tarantino-esque despite the fact that it's clearly the Coen Brothers that are being ripped off by it. Cross the setting and humour of Fargo with the violence and sense of nihilism of No Country For Old Men and you also wouldn't too far off what this movie actually is. Obviously, it's not as good as either of those movies but it's still much better than we had any right to expect. When I bought my ticket for this movie I was expecting a two-hour geriaction, gun-porno but what I got was a film inspired by the henchmen's deaths in Austin Powers. Cold Pursuit is just as interested in Smitty's bachelor party as it is the moment that he's decapitated by an ill-tempered, mutated sea-bass.

Of course, Cold Pursuit is nowhere near perfect. At the start of the movie, Neeson is married to Laura Dern who just randomly fucks off about twenty minutes in and is never mentioned again and I don't know why? I can only assume that Dern might have found some of Neeson's anecdotes a little intense between takes and simply decided to stop coming into work through fucking fear. Also, by giving all of these characters their little scenes the film does begin to drag as the equally problematic Morrissey began to sing “the joke isn't funny anymore” in my head. I suppose the purpose of all of these random scenes is to show how widespread an act of violence might be and how innocent people will be just as impacted as the original target. This also kind of makes a bit more sense as to why Neeson might, therefore, have decided to tell that specific 'cosh' story whilst promoting the movie instead of saving it for his fucking therapist. However, the underlying message of how evil revenge can be is somewhat undermined when the film is having so much fun depicting it. It's kind of like teaching a kid that they'll get fat and die by writing it on a cake and then having a party for them to eat it. But none of that changes the fact that Cold Pursuit was a much more interesting and well-made film than I expected it to be.

However, to provide further context, I suppose I should add that although it might not be another re-do of Taken it very much is a remake of the Norwegian film In Order Of Disappearance. Not only that but it's been remade by the exact same director who clearly figured that if Hollywood didn't have to have any new ideas then why should he? So it's possible that every single thing that I loved about this movie had already been done before and in actual fact, it may not have had a single original idea in it at all. I can only judge what I've seen and acknowledged that maybe I'm watching Elvis sing his hits but there's a chance that it's just an Asian man getting really into his karaoke performance. Although if you can't get over the 'Neeson's a racist' thing then I don't think this is the film that will warm you back to him. Of the many responses to his comments, I read from a person on twitter who claimed that our eagerness to forgive Big Liam was proof of society's racist undercurrent and that had he claimed to want to kill a dog we'd all be a lot angrier. It's a good point and perhaps for some people that might be true. But then I was remembered of the time that he was promoting The Grey and I remembered that he told a journalist that he got into character by eating actual fucking wolves for dinner. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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