Film Review: Cold Pursuit

Director Hans Petter Moland’s thriller Cold Pursuit is sufficiently entertaining but ultimately inconsequential. 

A man of few words, Nels Coxman is a snowplow driver in a small ski town. When his son is killed, Nels sets about finding those responsible, and enacting his revenge…

A remake of the 2014 Norwegian film In Order of Disappearance (also directed by Moland), Cold Pursuit is a revenge thriller with a simple premise. The narrative does offer a little more than this, with action stirred up between rival gangs and a family strand. Other aspects seem at odds however.

Cold Pursuit’s main problem is the thinly written characters. There is no one to sympathise with. Nels is a stoic protagonist, but his lack of personality means that it is difficult to root for him and become fully engaged with his mission. Viking is a caricature villain, an antagonist befitting a pantomime rather than a thriller. Other characters are given little to do. The film seems to spend time on a few supporting characters to no end, such as the multiple scenes with the police officers that never actually go anywhere. It seems as if they were of more consequence, but this has been edited out. The dark humour works well at times, but film is tonally uneven. The shift from dark comedy to bleak violence and slightly back again is jarring. 

Liam Neeson is not stretched in this role. Neeson has carved out a niche in the genre, with Taken on a Plane (Non-Stop) and Taken on a Train (The Commuter). Cold Pursuit could be Taken in the Snow, if it wasn’t for the darker tone and less punchier action. Tom Bateman hams it up as Viking with a less than convincing accent. Laura Dern is wasted in a minor role.

Cold Pursuit has some good sequences, and holds the attention sufficiently well. Yet the film is very forgettable.

Film Review: Breaking In

Director James McTeigue’s action thriller Breaking In is undemanding, but does not offer too much in return. The film is entertaining yet flawed. 

Shaun Russell takes her children to sort out her late father’s house in the countryside, ahead of its sale. When a crew attempt to rob the house, Shaun must find a way to save her children…

Written by Ryan Engle (Non-Stop, The Commuter) Breaking In has a concept that could be described as Die Hard in a house. The set up is fairly swift, moving the narrative quickly on to the action. This is generally a good thing, although it means there is some clunky exposition. Action in the film is decently executed, although viewers may hope for some more memorable set pieces than Breaking In provides. In the set up, an advanced security system is depicted, yet the callbacks to this are not in any way smart. 

Pacing in the film is good; director McTeigue manages to create a palpable tension at certain points. Nevertheless, the ending feels protracted, which is unusual for a film of this genre and duration. It seems the film has reached its conclusion, yet it continues for a further couple of scenes, which extinguishes the hitherto strong tautness.

The film places a strong emphasis on the fact that the protagonist is a female and a mother. Whilst Breaking In is different in this respect – after all, it is frequently the case in action thrillers that the father rescues the family – screenwriter Engle makes it pointed. There are several remarks made about Shaun being a formidable woman, and this feels like totally unnecessary signposting. The audience can see she is a mother (and not also a trained fighter), and it feels like the filmmakers are patting themselves on the back with these comments. Some of the rest of the dialogue is hackneyed, which serves Richard Cabral’s stereotyped villain rather poorly. Other performances are good; Gabrielle Union is believable in her lead role, doing enough to make viewers root for her.

Breaking In is a decent film for those in the mood for switched-off, undemanding viewing. For those wanting more, the film will be a disappointment.

Film Review: The Commuter

Jaume Collet-Serra’s The Commuter is very much a Liam Neeson action thriller. As such it is a bit silly but entertaining throughout.

Michael MacCauley is an insurance salesman who has done the same commute to work for ten years. On his way home one day, he is given an intriguing proposition. Yet things aren’t quite what they seem…

One of the more unexpected genres to emerge in the last ten years is the Liam Neeson movie. The characteristics are clear; Neeson is the gruff antagonist (with the specific set of skills) put in an unlikely but dangerous situation. These films have had varying degrees of success.

The Commuter is director Jaume Collet-Serra’s fourth collaboration with Liam Neeson. And the film does suffer from some of the same issues as its predecessors. Like Non-Stop and Unknown, viewers will have to suspend their disbelief with the increasingly far-fetched narrative. Nevertheless, whilst the incredulity can get tiresome in the earlier collaborations, The Commuter plays on this in an effective manner. The plot offers an interesting premise, which quickly stretches the realms of believability with every twist. Yet as this occurs, Collet-Serra ramps up the action and intensity to keep viewers engaged.

The film delivers an air of mystery with its premise, and protagonist Michael’s search for the mystery passenger. The screenwriters attempt to evoke a Hitchcockian level of suspense, and indeed there are parallels with The Lady Vanishes. Although The Commuter does not quite match the style it emulates, it is still very enjoyable. The dialogue offers lines which can only be tongue-in-cheek. The action is well executed, and the momentum is build effectively. Liam Neeson does his regular gruff action hero schtick. Vera Farmiga is decent in a small role.

Jaume Collet-Serra is clearly growing and improving in the action thriller genre. Whilst The Commuter is at times predictable and silly, it is finely paced and a lot of fun.

Previews: Game Night Trailer, The Post, More!

Lots of cinematic wonder in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Game Night trailer, The Post, Sherlock Gnomes, and more…

Game Night Trailer

Here is the new Game Night trailer. The film is about a group of friends who get together for a game night which becomes a murder mystery party. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Jason Bateman, and Kyle Chandler. Game Night is scheduled for release in cinemas on 4th May 2018.

The Post Trailer

The trailer for The Post exudes quality. The film features a stellar cast and crew, and focuses on team behind the The Washington Post taking a stand for free speech during the Nixon administration. Directed by Steven Spielberg, the film is written by Josh Singer and stars Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, and Sarah Paulson. The Post is released in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

The Greatest Showman Poster

Here is one of the new posters for the upcoming The Greatest Showman. The musical is all about the spectacle, focusing on the ambition of P.T. Barnum. Hugh Jackman heads the cast, and is joined by Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, and Zendaya. Featuring music from the Oscar-winning Pasek and Paul (La La Land), The Greatest Showman hits UK screens on 1st January 2018.

Sherlock Gnomes Trailer

Sherlock Gnomes is a follow-up to 2011’s Gnomeo and Juliet. The film sees the couple arrive in London and enlist the help of the famous detective to find out who is kidnapping garden gnomes. The adventure comedy features the voices of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Johnny Depp, Maggie Smith, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Sherlock Gnomes is set for release next year.

The Commuter Image

Here is a new look at the upcoming action thriller The Commuter. The film stars Liam Neeson as an insurance salesman who is forced to uncover the identity of a hidden passenger before the train reaches its final stop. Neeson is joined by Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill. The Commuter arrives in UK cinemas on 19th January 2018.

Previews: The Commuter Trailer, Tomb Raider, More!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the brand new The Commuter trailer, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Tomb Raider, and more…

The Commuter Trailer

Here is the brand new The Commuter trailer. The action thriller is about a regular commuter who is forced to find a hidden passenger on his train. The film sees director Jaume Collet-Serra reunite with Liam Neeson following Non-Stop and Unknown. Also starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, and Sam Neill, The Commuter launches onto UK screens on 19th January 2018.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Trailer

Here is the new Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle trailer. The film is a new adventure based in the world of Jumanji. The film is about four teenagers who are sucked into the jungle world, and stars Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set for release on 20th December 2017.

Tomb Raider Trailer

This is the trailer for the new Tomb Raider film, a reboot of the game-set series which starred Angelina Jolie in the early 2000s. Alicia Vikander plays Lara Croft, and the film focuses on the character at the beginning of her career. Also starring Dominic West and Walton Goggins, Tomb Raider is scheduled for release in March 2018.

The Glass Castle Clip

Above is a clip from The Glass Castle. The film is based on the memoirs of Jeannette Walls, focussing on her relationship with her unconventional father. Starring Brie Larson and Woody Harrelson, The Glass Castle is out in cinemas on 6th October 2017.

Better Watch Out Trailer

This looks like a lot of fun. Better Watch Out is a Christmas time-set horror comedy about a babysitter who must defend her tween charges from an intruder. The film looks like it has all the ingredients of an entertaining movie, from the trailer above at least. Starring Levi Miller and Olivia DeJonge, Better Watch Out hits UK screens on 8th December 2017.

The LEGO NINJAGO Movie Poster

I was non-plussed about The LEGO NINJAGO Movie but this cat is making it much more appealing. The third LEGO movie, this film is about a group of secret ninja warriors. Featuring the voices of Jackie Chan, Dave Franco, and Justin Theroux, The LEGO NINJAGO Movie is out in UK cinemas on 13th October 2017.