Film Review: COLD PURSUIT (USA 2019)

Cold Pursuit Poster

A snowplow driver seeks revenge against the drug dealers he thinks killed his son. Based on the 2014 Norwegian film ‘In Order of Disappearance’.


Frank Baldwin (screenplay by), Kim Fupz Aakeson (based on the movie ‘Kraftidioten’ written by)

Back in 2014, out of Norway arrived a taut, intelligent noir thriller from director Hans Petter Moland entitled IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE so called because the father of the boy killed by a drug lord kills of, in revenge, one dealer after another until reaching him.  The film was violent,, absorbing and extremely funny with the father, Nils played by Stellan Skarsgard tossing the bodies one after another wrapped in chicken wire over the waterfalls.  COLD PURSUIT is the Hollywood remake, directed by the same director.

Th protagonist is now called Nels (Liam Neeson), short for Nelson.  Nels Coxman’s quiet life as a snowplow driver in a glitzy Rocky Mountains resort town where he was just awarded Citizen of the Year is disrupted when his beloved son is murdered under mysterious circumstances.  His search for the cause turns into a quest for revenge against a psychotic drug lord named Viking ((British Tom Bateman). Using his hunting skills to transform himself from upstanding citizen to cold-blooded vigilante, Coxman sets out to dismantle the cartel, triggering a chain of events leading to a turf war between Viking and a rival boss.

The best segment in IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, one that I have watched 5 times deserves mention.  In it, the drug lord is seated in his design furniture chair with a hole in its back rest peering through the hole to see his ex-wife angrily entering the house demanding to find the son’s gym bag and questioning his parenting skills.  He gives her a wad of cash saying that she can use it to find a dozen more gym bags and he has an important and difficult job (drugs) to do.  She questions the son’s eating, probably fruit loops to which he screams: “Fruit loops?  Fruit loops?  I am vegan and I make sure my son eats the proper food.”  He keeps screaming at her  but she has left the house.  The ensuing scene has the boy eating fruit loops in the kitchen with his employees.  In the remake, the drug lord, Viking talks about the food that he is feeding the boy.  No mention of fruit loops.  The furniture with the gaping the back rest is no longer there.  The next scene has the boy eating ‘fruit pebbles’.   There go the original’s classic scene.

In the remake the native Indians replace the Serbs as the rival drug gang.  There is more sympathy for the natives than the Serbs, so one up for this change in script by Frank Baldwin.

Both COLD PURSUIT and DISAPPEARANCE ends with the credits of all the players listed on the screen, with the names disappearing one by one in order of disappearance from the film.  This  impressive segment makes no sense in COLD PURSUIT but makes total sense in the original movie.

COLD PURSUIT is almost a scene for scene remake.  

COLD PURSUIT ends up a lazy and uninspired Hollywood remake of the Norwegian IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE that was on my top 10 list of best films of the year in 2014. Trailer:

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE (Kraftidioten) (Norway/Sweden/Denmark 2014) ****

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:

in_order_of_disappearanceIN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE (Kraftidioten) (Norway/Sweden/Denmark 2014) ****
Directed by Hans Petter Moland

Review by Gilbert Seah

Can an ordinary man kill a drug lord? The answer is ‘yes’, if he is pushed beyond the limit, as this awesome Norwegian film attempts to prove, in a very violent, way.

Nils (Stellan Skarsgård) is a snow plough driver somewhere in Norway. He learns that his son, Ingvar has died, supposedly of a heroin overdose. Nils knows his son was no addict (his wife believes otherwise, though) and starts his own personal private investigation after his beaten up son’s friend confesses to Nils that his son was unknowingly involved in a drug delivery. Soon Nils finds out the local drug lord, known as ‘The Count’ (Pal Sverre Hagen) is behind the crime. He hunts down the two killers and kills both of them, but not before they confess. Based on this information, he goes after their boss, the Count, but finds himself in the crossfire between two rival gangs: one local, the Count and the one “imported” called Papa (Bruno Ganz) from Serbia.

The film contains more observational nuances than the normal action thriller that makes the story more interesting. An example is the scene of Nils asking his wife whether she knows where he had been. Nils is just proud that he had just disposed of one of the men in the chain that caused the death of their son. His wife just looks on nonchalantly.
The film plays like DIRTY HARRY with Skarsgard in the Clint Eastwood role. When the cops are useless and provide no answers into the truth of the son’s death, Nils takes matters into his own hands. The script proves the adage that a man will murder to protect his family.

The Norwegian landscape is used effectively. The film has repeated scenes of a body rolled up in chicken wire and tossed over the grand falls. Nils is also the champion of a huge snowblower that clears the roads of ice and snow. The wintry atmosphere adds to the bleakness of Nil’s situation.

The villain of the piece, the Count is also set up to be a ruthless father. The film spends again more time that the average action thriller on the villain. While showing him to be a ruthless maniac, he is also shown to be a father who wants the best for his son. He tells his bullied son to beat up the bully. He intimidates his driver for not fixing 5 organic fruits in his son’s lunch box and then warns him against talking business (he tells the boss that a worker has gone missing, the one who has just been killed by Nils). The encounters between him and his ex makes the funniest parts. Director Moland is expert in the creation of these wickedly devilish yet violent set-ups.
Skarsgard makes the unlikely but believable hero. He is comfortable in the role and it shows, having worked with director Moland in two other notable films ABERDEEN and ZERO KELVIN, also worthwhile films to catch.
The film is extremely violent. Those who love graphic violence as in horror films are in for a real treat. The humour is very black. For example the sign to the small town where Nils lives, “Welcome to Tycos” is shown half a dozen times as Nils drives in and out of the town to do his nasty business.

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE is a film that proves that a well-worn story of revenge can still be made intriguing given a little inventiveness even if it comes with a bit of nastiness. This film is my personal favourite of the year!



Also, Free logline submissions. The Writing Festival network averages over 95,000 unique visitors a day.
Great way to get your story out:

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival:

Watch recent Writing Festival Videos. At least 15 winning videos a month: