Cold Pursuit has been in South African cinemas for almost a week, and I’ve been having fun discussing with people exactly how they interpreted this film. If you read my review of Liam Neeson’s latest thriller, you’d know that the movie attempts to take a straightforward revenge narrative and add a compendium of different theatrical elements to it. One moment it’s a black comedy, the next it’s a character study. All the while there is a European, artistic flair to it.
Liam Neeson plays Nelson Coxman, a snowplough driver who loses his son to a suspected drug overdose. His life in ruins and with suicide seeming to be his only way out, Nels then discovers that his child’s death was by order of a man called Viking, a powerful drug cartel leader operating in Colorado. The bodies start to drop as Nels, now on a complete revenge stint, murders his way up the cartel’s pecking order, all the while Viking has to deal with the fury of a competing drug lord by the name of White Bull, who also ends up losing a son in the fallout.
Viking, played by the highly charismatic Tom Bateman, is one of the film’s highlights and is a pleasure to watch every time that he is on screen. According to Bateman, he had a great deal of fun depicting the bona fide psychopath:
I love this role. The whole point of the character is he looks like something, and it’s through his personality and what’s going on underneath him that actually where the story erupts from. This role has been one of the most fun I’ve played this year.
In an exclusive interview, Bateman explains the thinking that went into constructing Viking. Factoring the internal characteristics into how the character deals with both the mundane and intense events that occur:
He is a psychopath. Just when you think he’s going down one road, he flips it and goes down another. So, you may think “Oh he’s about to be violent” and then he might seductive and charming. “Oh he’s about to be funny” and then he shoots someone in the face and cuts off their head. I find there’s a hundred different ways I could play this character in each scene could be played in a hundred different ways. The lines could be completely subverted.
While also focusing on the greater motivation of the story:
You watch Liam going through the process of losing a son and then his wife leaving him, and the lengths he’s willing to go to satisfy that pain in him. He’s doing everything he’s doing because he’s hurting and he thinks the only way to do it is revenge. As soon as he starts killing my men, I want revenge on that. I accidently exercise that revenge on someone else. They then want revenge on me. It’s this huge big web that comes to a huge climax at the end, and leaves everyone really screwed.
Bateman goes on to describe his working relationship with director Hans Petter Moland and Liam Neeson. A collaborative endeavor that culminates in a film that is funny, dark, and dramatic all at the same time.
Check out the full interview below:
Last Updated: March 29, 2019