On the subject of race and revenge, the film's script, which was adapted from the original movie by writer Frank Baldwin, isn't exactly insightful. The leader of the drug-dealing operation that murdered Coxman's son is a number-crunching, diet-obsessed white guy named Trevor "Viking" Calcote (Tom Bateman) who sneers through the movie in expensive-looking suits. "Viking" and his associates, who have nicknames like "Mustang" and "Windex," are loathsome and fond of making the type of sexist and racist zingers one often finds in crime movies and novels looking to provoke. You know Viking is especially bad because he mistreats his cute son, something our noble patriarch would never do.
As the scope of the story expands beyond Coxman's quest, the film also introduces a surprisingly deep roster of supporting characters, but they're mostly thinly drawn. There's a female cop (Emmy Rossum) who does most of her police work by manipulating an ex in another Colorado precinct; a black hitman nicknamed "The Eskimo" (Arnold Pinnock), who's belittled by "Viking" in a particularly stupid scene; and a rival gang of Native American criminals led by an assassin named White Bull (Tom Jackson). The ensemble quality might bring to mind various D-grade post-Tarantino riffs from the '00s like Smokin' Aces or Lucky Number Slevin, but Moland does a more effective job of moving gracefully between the various double-crosses and triple-crosses. The steering of the plot is nimble in a way that's surprising for a movie about a guy who drives a giant truck.
So, why doesn't Cold Pursuit totally work? The weary resignation that Neeson brings to the role imbues the story with a melancholy quality, but there's also a sense that this road has been travelled too many times before. (It lacks the visual ingenuity of Neeson's work with The Commuter director Jaume Collet-Serra.) While Hollywood remains fixated on the concept of revenge as the sole psychological motivator for action storytelling, it often feels like the movies themselves have less and less to say about the topic. The pathway has already been cleared. There's no need for a snow plow to push away more detritus.