Tag Archives: John Doman

Cold Pursuit (2019) Review

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, suicide themes, sexual references & offensive language
Cast:
Liam Neeson as Nels Coxman
Tom Bateman as Trevor “Viking” Calcote
Tom Jackson as White Bull Legrew
Emmy Rossum as Kim Dash
Domenick Lombardozzi as Mustang
Julia Jones as Aya
John Doman as John “Gip” Gipsky
Laura Dern as Grace
Director: Hans Petter Moland

Nels Coxman’s (Liam Neeson) quiet life as a snowplow driver comes crashing down when his beloved son dies under mysterious circumstances. His search for the truth soon becomes a quest for revenge against a psychotic drug lord named Viking (Tom Bateman) and his sleazy henchmen. Transformed from upstanding citizen to coldblooded vigilante, Coxman unwittingly sets off a chain of events that includes a kidnapping, a series of deadly misunderstandings and a turf war between Viking and a rival boss (Tom Jackson).

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Liam Neeson ever since 2008’s Taken has starred in a bunch of revenge thrillers, so one could be forgiven for completely blanking on this year’s Cold Pursuit as just being more of the same, albeit set in the snow. That or it is just remembered as that one movie where Neeson said some things on a press tour that got him into some hot water to say the least. I was meaning to check it out earlier but missed it at the cinemas, so checked it out more recently. Cold Pursuit has its issues but its pretty entertaining overall.

It’s around 90 minutes long and for the most part it’s paced reasonably well. It starts off like you’d expect it to, it shows Liam Neeson in his normal life, tragedy strikes with his son being killed, and then he goes on his path of revenge. The second act is when you really notice something strange about the tone of the movie. As previously mentioned, this is a dark comedy and is very offbeat throughout, and you should probably know that going in or the experience is going to be a little surprising to say the least. You think that it would mainly focus on Liam Neeson, and while he is very prominent, it also focuses on two other groups of characters, one led by the main antagonist Viking, and the other being another crime group who would come into conflict with Viking. Personally I liked how they handled it, mostly because in the third act everything comes together to really work to hilarious effect (no spoilers). However the second act is a little stretched out, even if the runtime of the movie is shorter, and I would’ve liked to have seen more of Neeson, he needed to be in the movie a little more (particularly in the second act).

It really feels like Liam Neeson was cast in the lead role for a reason given his typical lead revenge roles, and he’s effortlessly good as expected. This time however, this isn’t a Liam Neeson with a particular set of skills, just a normal guy who is out for revenge. Tom Bateman plays the drug lord and the main antagonist of the movie. He’s crazy and unhinged but he’s mostly used for comedy, as he doesn’t really do anything till like the third act. He’s just so over the top but in the right kind of way, he’s deliberately not meant to be taken seriously. Most of the rest of the cast is fine as well. There is a subplot following a couple cops played by Emmy Rossum and John Doman, and while the two are okay in their roles, their parts didn’t really amount to anything. It’s almost like they’re in the movie to show that police exist in this town but they basically contribute nothing to the plot. The worst treatment of a character/actor is definitely with Laura Dern as Neeson’s wife. It’s actually kind of ridiculous, she appears for scenes before and after her son’s death, and then they just disappear and aren’t mentioned or seen ever again. I heard that apparently it was like that with the original movie, but then I wish the director then would’ve improved the role instead of keeping it the same.

Turns out that this movie is actually an English language remake of In Order of Disappearance, a film also made by the same director, Hans Petter Moland. He really does place you in the snowy location very well. His direction is especially great when it comes to the comedy. For example, every time someone dies, a title card comes up with the name of the person who was just killed. A lot of the time this is used for some really great comedy. The action itself when it actually happenss is quite good, however don’t expect the amount of action in some of Neeson’s other flicks like Taken.

Cold Pursuit isn’t anything special but it’s a fun movie. Liam Neeson and the cast worked well (although Laura Dern and Emmy Rossum weren’t given the best things to work with), and the writing and overall direction made it work as a dark comedy. It’s definitely not a conventional Neeson thriller and despite its issues, I’d say that it’s worth a watch.

You Were Never Really Here (2018) Review

Time: 89 Minutes
Cast:
Joaquin Phoenix as Joe
Ekaterina Samsonov as Nina Votto
Alex Manette as Senator Albert Votto
John Doman as John McCleary
Judith Roberts as Joe’s Mother
Alessandro Nivola as Governor Williams
Director: Lynne Ramsay

A traumatized veteran (Joaquin Phoenix), unafraid of violence, tracks down missing girls for a living. When a job spins out of control, Joe’s nightmares overtake him as a conspiracy is uncovered leading to what may be his death trip or his awakening.

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You Were Never Really Here was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. I have been hearing nothing but excellent things about this film. It received acclaim from the Cannes Film Festival, with particular praise to Lynne Ramsay’s direction and Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, receiving Cannes awards for Best Screenplay and Best Actor. The trailer also made the movie look quite unique and something truly special. You Were Never Really Here really lived up to all the praise. It is a very different and unique film, with fantastic visual direction from Lynne Ramsay and yet another phenomenal performance from Joaquin Phoenix.

One thing that is really worth pointing out is the way the story is told. Lynne Ramsay tells the story more visually, it not only doesn’t rely on a lot of dialogue, not everything is set out clear for us, we aren’t necessarily being told what’s going on. That means that you can miss a lot of the important details, even if you are focussed 100% on the screen and what’s going on (this definitely happened with me, afterwards I had to look up plot details to see what I didn’t get, this doesn’t usually happen with me). A lot of the plot or aspects like Phoenix’s character’s past aren’t set out clearly for us, with his past for instance, we only get flashes of it and we have to take what we are given and interpret it. In this case I can kind of see rewatches improving the enjoyment of the movie overall. I can see this unclear storytelling polarising some, but while there were some aspects of the plot I didn’t know about, I still admire Ramsay’s way of telling the story. Another thing is that the story, although it seems familiar, avoids falling into clichés that other similar movies often have, it’s not a straight forward revenge film. It’s more focussed on the character of Joe and his arc, which is not one that you’d really expect. It’s also worth knowing going in that this isn’t an action thriller or anything of the sort like it was shown in the trailer, it is a slow paced character study. This movie is fairly short, at 1 hour and 30 minutes long, which is a good enough length, though I will admit I wouldn’t mind it being another 10 or so minutes. The pacing was fine, the first act was a little slow but it wasn’t too much of an issue.

It’s no surprise that Joaquin Phoenix gives a fantastic performance, with him being one of the all time best actors working at the moment, but this is one of his best performances yet. The whole movie surrounded his character Joe and was basically riding on Phoenix, as usual he delivers. It’s a multi-layered performance with very little dialogue, so Phoenix has to convey a lot through his performance with so little. I’ve noticed a lot of people comparing his character of Joe to Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver and while on surface level they might seem similar, they really aren’t. I won’t go into too much depth into Joe as a character as I think it’s something better seeing for yourself. What I will say is that his character clearly has a lot to him that has to communicated often times non verbally and Phoenix, being the incredible actor that he is, does this fantastically. Other supporting actors like Ekaterina Samsonov, Alex Manette, John Doman and Judith Roberts do well enough in their role, even though most of the attention is on Phoenix (some of these actors don’t even have that many scenes but they were still good).

This is the first film I’ve seen of Lynne Ramsay, I heard she did some films like We Need to Talk about Kevin and Ratcatcher, I haven’t seen them yet but I heard they are good. Based on her work on this movie however, I can say that she is an excellent director, her direction of this film is nothing short of fantastic. This movie is shot incredibly well, it is an absolutely stunning looking film. Ramsay also portrays violence well, it’s brutal but not excessive, a lot of the times it doesn’t even show it very close up. Nonetheless you feel the impact of it. The way the film is edited is definitely really great, it really is essential to the storytelling style. As I said, the story is told more visually than verbally and a big part of the movie is Joe going through some flashbacks because of his past and his PTSD. Often times we get splices of what happened in his past. Ramsay also helps you really experience what he’s thinking and feeling, especially towards the final act, culminating at times in some nightmarish and effective sequences. Jonny Greenwood has been creating movie scores for a while but this just might be his best, it really adds to the overall tone and feel of the movie, ranging from being entrancing to being nightmarish.

You Were Never Really Here is truly one of the best films of the year so far. With Lynne Ramsay’s excellent direction and Joaquin Phoenix’s great performance, it really is a unique film that delivers on pretty much every level. It’s not for everyone and I can see a lot of people not really liking this. It worked for me though, and I have a feeling that I’m going to like it more upon further thought and rewatches.