Liam Neeson plays a vengeful snowplow driver named “Nels Coxman” in Cold Pursuit, which is already a hell of a logline. A premise like that writes itself, or so you’d think, envisioning a more phallocentric Taken with improvised snow weaponry, bad guys being stuffed into snow blowers or drowned in ice holes and so forth. “Nels Coxman will fill your crevasse… with DEATH.”
Part of me did want to see a hyper-violent version of the Mr. Plow episode of the Simpsons, complete with awkward geriatric love scenes, but, credit for defying expectations, Cold Pursuit is not that. It’s more like if you took Liam Neeson’s character from Taken (which he has played in virtually every movie since Taken) and stuck him in a European sitcom version of Pulp Fiction where all the humor has been lost in translation. Now it’s just strange characters doing strange things with the vague sense of familiarity; a surreal experience.
Norway’s Hans Petter Moland directs, in a remake of his own 2014 film, Kraftidioten (English title: In Order Of Disappearance), which starred Stellan Skarsgard as “Nils Dickman.” Nils Dickman… Nells Coxman… let’s call the whole thing off. The joke is self-explanatory, and the entire concept of a “plow man” is already sexually euphemistic, but that doesn’t stop Moland from explaining it. “Cocksman, you know what that means right?” asks a lazy veteran cop to his plucky rookie partner as Coxman walks by. “It means a man who is gifted at fornication.”
Say what you will about porn being low brow and hopelessly unpoetic, at least the plot of All That Jizz never ground to a halt while someone explained the entendre of “Peter North.” But See what I did there? is Cold Pursuit’s operating philosophy, half-jokes, fully explained.