Reviews: Cold Pursuit and Ben is Back

At the movies: Cold Pursuit and Ben is Back are in cinemas now. Photos: Supplied.
At the movies: Cold Pursuit and Ben is Back are in cinemas now. Photos: Supplied.

Cold Pursuit, the American remake of 2014’s In Order of Disappearance, sees Liam Neeson make the switch from action-thriller to dark comedy.

Neeson plays Nels Cockman, a snowplow driver living a quiet life alongside wife Grace (Laura Dern).

Their relationship breaks down following their son’s death from an apparent heroin overdose.

In true ‘Liam Neeson movie’ fashion, Nels takes revenge on the scummy drug kingpins responsible.

Be warned – Cold Pursuit is kookier and weirder than one would expect. 

It veers much closer to Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers, than to any of Neeson’s previous efforts (Taken, Run All Night etc.). 

Almost every scene features wacky comedic jaunts and/or splashes of violence. 

As the body count rises, director Hans Petter Molland makes each twist and turn work.

Neeson brings his signature brand of charisma to the role.

Nels is the straight man in comparison to the kingpins, drug dealers, and henchmen around him. 

British actor Tom Bateman shines as Viking – a scummy, health-conscious crime lord stuck in a custody battle with his ex-wife.

Shameless star Emmy Rossum is charming as a small-town cop keen to make a name for herself.

Cold Pursuit will please viewers looking for sharp, out-there comedic hi-jinks.

Those seeking non-stop action and suspense, however, should look elsewhere.

Ben is Back

In drug addiction drama Ben is Back, Holly Burns (Julia Roberts) pulls into the driveway to see her son, Ben (Lucas Hedges), sitting near the front door.

Ben has returned for Christmas following a year-long stint in a rehabilitation facility.

Prior to rehab, Ben – addicted to Oxycontin – almost brought his home town to its knees. 

In the present, he is forced to contend with his mother, her husband Neal (Courtney B. Vance), his sister Ivy (Kathryn Newton), and some unfriendly faces. 

Ben is Back is not an enjoyable experience. Notably, writer/director Peter Hedges (Dan in Real Life) has crafted a shockingly-realistic story about addiction.

The movie relies heavily on Roberts and Hedges’s mother-son dynamic. 

Returning to the big screen after numerous TV stints, Roberts delivers a remarkable performance in a tough role.

Clinging to a distant memory of her son, Holly is a fascinating and relatable character. 

Hedges – on a roll following Manchester By the Sea, Lady Bird, and Boy Erased – is one of Hollywood’s best young actors.

He and Roberts elevate this otherwise straightforward drama.

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