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Film / Cold Pursuit

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Cold Pursuit is a 2019 American Black Comedy Action Thriller film directed by Hans Petter Moland (in his Hollywood debut) from a screenplay by Frank Baldwin. The film stars Liam Neeson, Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum, William Forsythe, and Tom Bateman. It is a remake of the 2014 Norwegian vigilante film In Order of Disappearance (Kraftidioten), also directed by Moland, and follows a snowplow driver who sets out for revenge on a local drug lord following the murder of his son.

Quiet family man and hard-working snowplow driver Nels Coxman is the lifeblood of a glitzy resort town in the Rocky Mountains because he is the one who keeps the winter roads clear. He and his wife live in a comfortable cabin away from the tourists. The town has just awarded him "Citizen of the Year." But Nels has to leave his quiet mountain life when his son is murdered by a powerful drug lord. As a man who has nothing to lose he is stoked by a drive for vengeance. This unlikely hero uses his hunting skills and transforms from an ordinary man into a skilled killer as he sets out to dismantle the cartel. Nels' actions ignite a turf war between a manically unpredictable gangster known as Viking and a rival gang boss. Justice is served in one final spectacular confrontation that will leave (almost) no one unscathed.


Cold Pursuit provides the following examples of:

  • Adaptational Nationality: The original film was set in Norway while the remake takes place in Colorado.
  • Asian Rudeness: The main character's Asian sister-in-law levels a perpetual Death Glare at him when he visits his brother. However, since disaster immediately follows his visit, she might have cause.
  • Ate His Gun: Nels is about to do this when Dante's unexpected presence turns it into an Interrupted Suicide.
  • Bench Breaker: When Kyle and Dante are abducted, Dante has his wrists bound over his head to the handle above the car door. During the confusion while the gangsters are trying subdue Kyle, Dante manages to escape by ripping the handle off and jumping out into the snow.
  • Big Badass Rig: Nels uses his heavy-duty snowplow as weapon during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Buttoned up inside it, he is able to cut a swathe through two heavily armed gangs who are shooting and him and each other.
  • Brick Joke: Avalanche goes paragliding when White Bull's gang are spending the day at the ski resort. Anyone watching the final shootout closely might notice that Avalanche is not present. The final shot of the movie is is Avalanche's paraglider descending from the sky and colliding with Nils' snowplow where he is Ground by Gears.
    • Another one is whenever a character is killed, their name is dramatically shown on a black screen before cutting to the next scene. In the finale when Viking and White Bull's gangs wipe each other out in a massive shootout, the screen is filled with names.
  • Car Fu: Coxman uses his snowplow to smash Santa's car off the road and down an embankment.
  • Cement Shoes: Nels wraps the bodies of his victims in chicken wire and dumps them into the river where they are washed over a waterfall into the gorge. When his brother asks why chicken wire, Nels explains that it weighs them down so they sink, but it allows the fish in to nibble at the body so the gasses won't build and cause the body to bloat and float to the surface.
  • Construction Vehicle Rampage: Both gangs arrive at Nels' workplace, and most of them are killed in the ensuing shootout. Viking, attempting to drive away, is trapped when Nels uses a John Deere tracked feller-buncher (a tree harvester) to impale a shorn tree into his car.
  • Convenient Terminal Illness: Nels' brother Brock is dying of cancer. When Viking mistakenly concludes that Brock is the one who has been killing his men, Brock confesses: taking the fall for Nels and dying in his place.
  • Coolest Club Ever: The drug dealer Speedo is based in what appears to be the the coolest club in Denver. It is full of young, beautiful people, which makes the late middle-aged, working class Nels Coxman stand out even more when he comes there seeking Speedo.
  • Cultural Translation: A character discusses giving a hotel a bad review on "Yelp", the UK trailers replaces "Yelp" with "TripAdvisor".
  • Dead Guy on Display: Viking's men string Legrew's body up on a road sign outside of Kehoe as a warning to White Bull.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Viking sends Sly to present Dexter's head to White Bull as a peace offering.
  • Disposing of a Body: Nels disposes of the bodies of his victims by wrapping them in chicken wire before dumping them in the gorge. He later explains to his brother that the wire weighs the bodies down so they sink, but allows the fish access to the body to nibble at it. This prevents gasses from building up and causing the body to bloat and float to the surface.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: After Viking murders his lover Dexter, Mustang gets revenge by informing White Bull of Viking's plan, ensuring that Viking is heading into an ambush.
    • Viking is a pretty sleazy bastard, but he's genuinely concerned for his son's well-being, and is distraught when he's kidnapped.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Zig-Zagged. When the Eskimo betrays Coxman to Viking for $90,000, the Viking is disgusted at the Eskimo's lack of professionalism: if he has taken Coxman's money for the contract, he should have followed through with the contract. He then has the Eskimo executed. However, he later promises Janitor Chuck $10,000 for information on Coxman's whereabouts. After getting the information, he has Chuck shot.
    • Dexter, one of Viking's henchmen is visibly annoyed and disgusted by Viking's disrespectful treatment of Native Americans.
  • Everything Is Racist: Deliberately invoked by White Bull's right-hand man Thorpe. When trying to check into the hotel, the receptionist tells him that he needs a reservation. Thorpe chooses to interpret this as her telling him to "get back to the reservation". She repeats the statement several times before she realizes who she is talking to. Threatening all kinds of complaints, Thorpe is able to parlay this into rooms in the fully booked hotel, and free ski passes for the weekend.
  • Fake Static: Kim fakes an avalanche so she can get off the phone with her ex-boyfriend Kurt. Her partner Gib watches on in disbelief.
  • Gayngster: Two of Viking's crew, Mustang and Dexter, are a couple and are hiding it from the rest of the gang.
  • Gotta Kill 'Em All: Nels Coxman goes seeking revenge on the people responsible for his son's death. Initially, he only has one name, so he hunts that man down and forces the next name in the chain out of him before killing him. He then repeats the process with the next name in the chain, and so on.
  • Groin Attack: Aya is accusing Viking of kidnapping their son, so she threatens Viking that she's gonna take full custody of their son. This pisses Viking off, so he tries to punch Aya, but she ducks his blow and grabs him by the balls. Viking's men seem remarkably reluctant to intervene in this domestic dispute while he groans in pain as she squeezes his testicles even tighter. The scary thing is that she looks like she's enjoying squeezing his balls and humiliating him in front of his men.
  • Ground by Gears: Avalance gets sucked into Nils' snowplow and is turned into a bloody red pulp that is sprayed along the side of the road.
  • Hidden Depths: Mustang is Viking's personal bodyguard and driver, and is assumed by most people to be Dumb Muscle. However, several scenes indicate that he is much smarter (although not educated) than most people give him credit for. Additionally, he has developed a deep affection for Viking's young son, and has acquired an appreciation for classical music because of the boy's love of it.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Nels has his rifle in his mouth and is about to pull the trigger when he is interrupted by Dante's presence in the garage. When he learns the truth of of Kyle's death from Dante, he abandons his suicide plans and instead embarks on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • It's All About Me: Grace ignores Nels' claims and evidence their son been murdered, and instead pretends it was their own fault he died from drug abuse.
  • Jerkass: Coxman’s sister-in-law Ahn, she constantly fixes Nels with a permanent Death Glare for seemingly no reason and when her husband dies, her last act before leaving is to spit on his grave.
  • Karma Houdini: The one gangster that survives the shoutout at the end is White Bull.
  • Killed Offscreen: Dante is murdered off-screen in Denver, and Nels only learns of it when Kim tells him.
  • Last Disrespects: At Brock's funeral, Ahn's last act before leaving is to spit on his grave.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe. Viking considers Lord of the Flies a guide to live your life by.
  • Mythology Gag: The cast credits are displayed "In order of Disappearance", which was the title of the original film that this one is remaking.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: After Kyle is murdered, his killers carry his body to an outside table, carrying on a conversation as if he is alive and drunk. They prop him up at the table, pop sunglasses on him, talk to him for a while, and then leave, saying they are going to get coffee.
  • Offing the Mouth: Dexter is a smartass who is always cracking wise. When Viking is having a particularly bad day, Dexter makes one wisecrack too many and Viking shoots him, and then has his head sent as a peace offering to White Bull.
  • Outside Ride: After the final shootout, White Bull hangs on to the side of Coxman's snowplow and then climbs inside, pointing a gun at Coxman.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Speedo keeps a gun stashed in the waistband of his pants. He flashes it at Coxman as a warning. However, thinking he has scared Coxman, he makes the fatal mistake of turning his back on him.
  • Pistol-Whipping: While interrogating Limbo, Coxman knocks out his teeth with his sawn-off rifle.
  • Police Are Useless: Played straight with Gipsky who can't even handle the sight of a corpse and avoids dealing with serious crimes. Zigzagged with Kim who is genuinely trying to investigate the case but arrives too late to the final shootout to do anything.
  • Put on the Bus: Nels' wife Grace, assuming that Nels doesn’t care about their sons death and unaware of his taking revenge against the gangsters simply leaves him without a word, leaving only a blank letter.
  • Race Lift: The Japanese assassin known as "The Chinaman" in the original film becomes a black hitman called "The Eskimo" in this remake, and the Serbian mafia is replaced by Native American gangsters.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: When Coxman hires the Eskimo to eliminate Viking, the Eskimo takes the upfront payment and then goes to Viking to inform him of Coxman's intent, collecting another $90,000 from Viking. Viking pays the money into the Eskimo's account, and then has the Eskimo executed, disgusted by his lack of professionalism.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After his son's death, Nels Coxman is ready to commit suicide. However, when he learns that Kyle was murdered, he changes his mind and begins a roaring rampage of revenge: working his way up the chain towards the drug lord Viking, whom he holds ultimately responsible.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: There is an ongoing conversation between two of Viking's men, while bored on stakeout, about seducing chambermaids by placing a $20 bill on your genitals. Eventually gets a payoff quite late in the film.
  • Shipper on Deck: A downplayed example. Gib seems quite keen to get Kim and her ex-boyfriend Kurt back together; despite the fact he's never met Kurt. It's possible that he just dislikes Kim using Kurt for information, and wants to see Kurt get something out of the deal.
  • The Social Darwinist: Trevor Calcote, alias 'Viking'. He believes it is the right of the strong to dominate the weak. He gave his son a copy of Lord of the Flies for his fifth birthday, and regards it as a manual for living your life by.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: For the most part it follows the same beats of In Order of Disappearance. However, given the Adaptational Nationality and Race Lift, the remake has enough original moments and new spins to some scenes to avoid being a direct copy. An excellent example of this is when the gangsters go at a ski resort and are annoyed that they needed a reservation to have enough rooms. In the original, they were Serbian and not much happened, but in the remake, being Native Americans, the receptionist's unfortunate wording gets a Mistaken for Racist treatment that gives the criminals the upper hand at getting what they want.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Brock puts his brother Nels in touch with a Professional Killer called 'The Eskimo'. Brock warns him that is always 'The Eskimo', not 'Eskimo'. Apparently, it's a Mob thing.
  • Spiteful Spit: Ahn deliberately spits on Brock's grave at the end of his funeral.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Discussed and Implied by Ryan, Viking's son, after he is kidnapped by Nels. After Nels treats him like his own son, making him food, reading a "bedtime story", and letting the kid sleep in his son's old bed, Ryan asks him if he knows what Stockholm Syndrome is.
  • Straight Man: Nels Coxman plays the Straight man to the rest of the characters in the film.
  • Tagline:
    • "The Perfect Revenge is all in the Execution."
    • "Meet Nels Coxman, Citizen of the Year."
    • "Revenge is best served cold."
  • Taught by Television: Nels explains to his brother Brock—who is a former hitman—that he has been wrapping the bodies in chicken wire before dumping them in the gorge because the wire weighs the bodies down so they sink, but allows the fish access to the body to nibble at it. This prevents gasses from building up and causing the body to bloat and float to the surface. Brock asks him where he learned all of this, and Nels says he watches a lot of crime shows.
  • The Tooth Hurts: While he is interrogating Limbo, Coxman smashes the drug dealer in the mouth with his sawn-off rifle, knocking out several of his teeth in the process.
  • Vigilante Man: Nels Coxman is a snowplow driver turned vigilante.
  • Villains Out Shopping: During the middle of a turf war, White Bull and his crew take some time out to enjoy a day at the snow at the ski resort, with most of the mooks having a snowball fight and Avalanche going paragliding.
  • The Voice: Kim's ex-boyfriend Kurt, who is a vice cop in Denver, is only heard as a voice over the phone.
  • Vomiting Cop: Gipsky throws up when he and Kim find Legrew's body strung up on a road sign outside of Kehoe.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Viking swings a punch at his ex-wife. He quickly regrets this.
  • Would Hurt a Child: White Bull is intent on killing Viking's son to avenge his own, and refuses to accept Viking killing Dexter, a low-level flunky, as compensation. After Viking himself is killed, he seems to let it go.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: When Dexter makes one joke too many, Viking shoots him and orders Sly to cut off his head and present it to White Bull as a peace offering.