Cold Pursuit


Viewed – 03 September 2019. Online rental

This Liam Neeson thriller has gotten swept under the rug it following the actor’s controversial remarks during an American TV interview earlier in the year, which has since relegated this to stumble-upon VOD fodder. Here, Neeson plays a snowplow driver at a ski resort who’s son is murdered in mysterious circumstances.. A simple set up then has Neeson tracking down those responsible. At the same time a war breaks out between rival drug dealers that Neeson uses to his advantage.

Now I thought after a glut of copycat Liam Neeson thrillers that just seemed like weak attempts to cash in on tne success of Taken … a satire of his usual formula was on the cards. However despite such a promise in the trailer, what we actually get is Neeson playing it entirely straight in a movie that tries and mostly fails to a achieve that clever Coens-esque vibe that blends the serious with the comedic (think especially Fargo). Some support characters add flavour, including a rookie cop out to prove herself and a young boy Neeson befriends who’s father just happens to be the main villain. I also enjoyed the villain’s maniacal performance, and the drug gang rivalry stuff was entertaining as they slowly picked each other off. Also on a purely technical basis, the wintery setting and some of the sequences were at least visually arresting.

Yet with a limp story, a cliched lead performance and plot threads that go nowhere – what actually had the son done to get himself killed? Oh and Laura Dern is in this as Neeson’s wife who following their son’s murder, just stops talking and eventually leaves – that’s how this movie explores grief. Yeah, this was a bit of a strange one and I’m afraid, not a movie I can easily recommend.

Verdict: 2.5 /5

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Breaking bad-habits


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I’ve waited until now to post about what has arguably become one of the most talked about and celebrated TV shows in history.  Yes Vince Gilligan’s award winning Breaking Bad.  Last night I finished watching the final season, and came away so shaken, impressed and wowed at the shows excellence that I really felt I had been witness to a major landmark in television entertainment.

I will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible as I think this is a show that really needs to be enjoyed to the max, without knowing what lies ahead, and is another reason I have waited this long to talk about it.  Brian Cranston, previously best known as the dad in Malcolm In The Middle, plays a chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer.  Fearing for his family’s financial future, including a disabled son and a pregnant wife, he plots a scheme to get involved in the crystal-meth cooking business with a helping hand from former student Jessie (Aaron Paul).  For me I considered this a strange concept for a show and not one I could have foreseen being so popular – I mean really, the main character is a drug dealer (of sorts).  Yet in the hands of Brain Cranston he makes a morally dubious and sometimes downright awful person likable … and you are there every step of the way as he faces up against rival drug barons, his own brother-in-law DEA agent (the wonderful Dean Norris) as well as his own family woes.

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First and foremost despite an unusual premise, what holds this all together are a wealth of first class performances, especially from Cranston and Paul who excel in their roles and believe me go through the full gamut of emotions and obstacles throughout the  series … these guys really earn their pay cheques.  Cranston especially breaking out of his sitcom routes to become one of the most iconic and memorable characters, nicknamed Heisenberg and with a bald head and goatee that will truly go down in history.  I really can’t praise this show enough.  Gilligan’s direction (and the various other names who step in, including Cranston himself) all deliver a show full of style, quirks, often clever camera work, great music choices and plenty of tension – with a fair bit of comic-relief too.  This is a black comedy at times, but also hard-hitting, violent and disturbing – in a good way that hits home and lingers in one’s mind.  The kind of show you just have to talk about afterwards.

Another feather to its cap are some of the supporting characters, the lovable but deadly hit man Mike (everyone’s favourite eighties villain Jonathan Banks – Beverly Hills Cop anyone?) and most notably Giancalo Esposito’s Gustavo Fring – who really stamps his evil presence from the show’s 3rd season onwards.

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My American readers may have already seen this show and moved on, some may wonder what all the fuss is about – as did I … but after reading many (often celebrity) recommendations, I got curious and thanks to Netflix have been able to enjoy this show in it’s entirety.  It hasn’t been treated the best by British TV networks, being a complete no show on terrestrial television or even satellite service Sky – something that totally baffles me to this day … maybe that will change some time soon, even now the show is done … because it really deserves the widest audience possible. 

TV programmes come along like this very rarely … so don’t let it slip you by.