Is this movie Taken episode number 327? No, but certainly it would not be the same without Liam Neeson self-awaringly playing off his recent action pedigree as Nels Coxman, an upstanding citizen and snowplough operator in the Colorado ski town of Kehoe.
Coxman’s son Kyle (Michéal Richardson) is a baggage handler at the local airport who gets tangled up in the local cocaine shipping ring with another worker, resulting in both being kidnapped. Kyle is killed via heroin injection, while his colleague escapes into the snowy darkness, avoiding his own certain death.
Coxman and his wife (Laura Dern, who unfortunately was not given enough to work with in her role) arrive at the morgue to identify their son, and you get the first glimpse that this isn’t going to be that predictable revenge plot movie as the trolley carrying Kyle is raised painfully slowly into position via squeaky foot pump with awkward looks exchanged all round.
Coxman is unable to accept that his son was a heroin addict who died of an overdose, and is painfully close to suicide as he wrestles with the concept – until Kyle’s colleague resurfaces bloodied from the wilderness to tell him what really happened. At this point you know that revenge is on the cards, but it’s almost as if Neeson’s Taken character is exhausted with his own image of being the ultimate in calm, problem solving detective, and instead becomes a jaded, impatient vigilante who without mercy violently ends the lives of a serious of links to the cocaine chain before tossing their bodies over a waterfall into a ravine (he read how to do it in a book once).
Meanwhile, cocaine kingpin/single dad Trevor ‘Viking’ Calcote (played with hilarious levels of character anxiety in a standout performance by Tom Bateman) is increasingly agitated at the mysterious loss of his dealers, misattributing this to the local Native American cocaine family of White Bull (Tom Jackson) with whom his father had struck a deal with over territories several decades earlier. He decides to kill one of the Indian dealers to send a message, but unfortunately the dealer they chose happened to be White Bull’s son, kicking off a turf war that can only be settled with the blood of Viking’s son.
This is the blackest of gory comedies, craftily remade by Hans Petter Moland from his own 2014 thriller Kraftidioten (In Order of Disappearance). The snowy background is a picturesque backdrop to the blood spatter of this slow burn quirky offering from a great cast of characters that populate Viking’s team and the town of Kehoe.