Hans Petter Moland's Cold Pursuit is somehow both the quintessential Liam Neeson action-thriller and the worst 'Liam Neeson movie' ever made.
I use the term 'Liam Neeson movie' to describe any and all early-year action-thrillers that star the lead guy in Taken as he tries to recreate the magic of Taken on some form of transport (note The Commuter being Taken on a Train and Non-Stop being Taken on a Plane).
This is, in many ways, Taken on a Snowplough. And in that regard, it is absolutely the worst 'Liam Neeson Movie' ever made, but I also think it is one of the better 'movies starring Liam Neeson' of recent memory.
Based on the Norweigan Black-comedy In Order of Disappearance (also directed by Moland), this vigilante revenge-thriller hones in on one man, Liam Neeson's Nelson Coxman, as he seeks revenge against a local drug-lord, Tom Bateman's Viking, for his son's murder.
Parallels drawn between past Takens and this are not unfounded: he plays the same drab role he always has, being all of very cool, very miserable and very - very - mumbly
But ultimately, he is just 'there' for most of the run-time - neither stealing the screen nor fading into the background: I'd argue there are points where he is a glorified extra. Both as the film's biggest strength and its fatal flaw, there are a lot of (too many, at points) engaging characters battling for screen time - many of which overshadow the old man himself.
Tom Bateman's very pompous and delectably loathsome baddie is, for my money, the standout: with Bateman's cunning performance making his suave, suit-wearing character remarkably punchable while surprisingly nuanced character writing humanises him in ways Neeson villains haven't been before, automatically making him far more memorable than the villain in Taken.
Overall, this little action-heavy thriller is Neeson to the core in every way except spirit: as there is far more depth than death in this entry to the unofficially-official Takenverse. After every death, no matter how big or small, the character who died is given a moment of silence: which I feel is to acknowledge both the value of life and the fruitlessness of this crusade, and it certainly makes you think.
In no way is it a depressing watch, but it certainly makes you reconsider that time you cheered when Liam Neeson karate-chopped a man's neck to death in Taken, or when he did it in Non-Stop ... or The Commuter ... or Run All Night. You get my drift.
Point being, Liam Neeson's been at this game of karate-chopping necks for what feels like a lifetime, and yet somehow has still made a film this fresh and interesting, in spite of its remake-roots.
Fans of Captain Karate-Chop aren't getting what they expect, but if you expect a legitimately funny, in an incredibly cynical way, black-comedy, this snowy slaughterhouse is both very snowy, very Liam Neeson and very - and I am as shocked to say this as you will probably be to hear it - good. And as the Takenverse can only go weirder from here, I demand Taken on a Wheelbarrow ... or at the very-least tractor.