Liam Neeson takes on a vengeance spree in ‘Cold Pursuit’

Vengeance knows no boundaries, Liam Neeson’s latest action thriller “Cold Pursuit” bleeds the drug cartel dry as the man known with a unique set of skills takes on the role of Nels Coxman, a snowplough driver whose only son was murdered by a powerful drug cartel in their town.

This twisted revenge story swirls around Neeson’s Nels Coxman, a snowplough driver in the Colorado ski resort of Kehoe. Just named Citizen of the Year for his services in keeping the roads open to the remote town, Coxman’s life swiftly spirals into amateur retribution and an escalating pile of corpses when his son (played by Micheál Richardson) is mistakenly killed by local gangsters over a stash of missing drugs. All he knows about killing people is what he read in a crime novel, but Coxman sets off with a sawn-off hunting rifle, and unwittingly begins a chain of events that will include a snowbound turf war, kidnapping, two rival crime lords and a host of hoodlums with colourful nicknames like Maverick, Mustang, and Smoke.

“A whole can of worms.” That’s how Liam Neeson describes what his character opens in Hans Petter Moland’s blisteringly violent and bitingly hilarious COLD PURSUIT. “My character goes out on a path of vengeance, but doesn’t realise what he’s getting himself into,” says Neeson. “He thinks he’s going after one guy who killed his son. In actual fact, it all escalates into a whirlwind of vengeance and violence. And it all has this grain of dark humour running through it, if you can imagine that!”

There aren’t many actors whose CV include everything from an Oscar-nominated turn in

“Schindler’s List” to a Jedi, a Batman villain, a shady cop made out of Lego and a talking Lion. But then, Liam Neeson isn’t like many other actors.  With an astonishing 126 credits to his name, the 66-year-old famously saw himself unwittingly reinvented as an action star a decade ago, with his starring role as Bryan Mills in the huge global smash that was TAKEN. But while that movie’s plot, of a father out for revenge against the men who have put his offspring in danger, may sound like it shares some DNA with that of Cold Pursuit, the latter sees him deliver a performance unlike any in his already storied career.

“On the one level, Cold Pursuit is a great, classic revenge thriller,” says Neeson. “But what was really appealing to me was the dark undercurrent of humour that runs through it.” Or, as his director, Hans Petter Moland puts it: “Basically, this is Liam Neeson like you’ve never seen him before. It’s a very special, unique performance.”

‘Dolphin Tale’ director, star reunite for ‘A Dog’s Way Home’

Having appeared in and directed a number of films involving animals — including helming the two hit Dolphin Tale movies — Charles Martin Smith, director of Columbia Pictures’ heartwarming tale A Dog’s Way Home, admits to being enthralled with the genre.

“I’m probably the only director in the business that actually prefers working with kids and animals,” says Smith with a laugh. “I’m fascinated by making movies about animals, nature, and wilderness, and A Dog’s Way Home combines them in a way that’s very exciting for me. When I was a young man acting in Never Cry Wolf, the director of that film, Carroll Ballard, taught me so much about working in nature and working with animals and understanding how to capture that on film. I try to carry that forward in the films that I make now.”

Bella (Shelby) jumps through the window screen in Columbia Pictures’ A DOG’S WAY HOME.

Based on the bestselling novel by the beloved author of A Dog’s PurposeA Dog’s Way Home is an emotionally charged and uplifting spiritual odyssey that follows the adventure of Bella (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard), a dog who embarks on an epic 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her beloved human, Lucas (played Jonah Hauer-King), an aspiring med student and VA hospital volunteer. Bella touches the lives of many during her unwavering quest; from an orphaned mountain lion cub to a homeless veteran down on his luck, Bella brings joy and comfort to everyone she meets with her unique spirit and faith.

“The thing about animals as opposed to human actors is that animals will always be honest,” Smith says. “You’ll never get a false moment out of an animal; there’s an innocence and purity about them as characters in film that I find endlessly interesting.”

Lucas (Jonah Hauer King), Bella (Shelby) and Terri (Ashley Judd) in Columbia Pictures’ A DOG’S WAY HOME.

Joining Smith in the big-screen retelling of Bella’s journey is Ashley Judd, who previously worked with the director on two other beloved films about an animal: Dolphin Tale and its sequel.

“Charles Martin Smith is the director of the movie and we made two Dolphin Tale movies together,” said Judd in an interview with Parade. “I knew that in his capable hands the movie would be very touching, very inspirational but also very grounded and authentic. I love that the movie deals with big social themes, such as veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with homelessness, and our family of choice — the people with whom we choose to spend our lives.”

In the film, Judd plays Terri, a veteran affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and finds that having Bella in her home is able to give her considerable relief. “As someone who has had service animals, I’m very familiar with the way that these animals are of extraordinary benefit to their humans,” says Judd. “When Terri has [PTSD] episodes, Bella recognizes that, and she’s there to put her chin on Terri’s leg, to comfort her, and to help bring her back to the present moment, to get her back into her body, and out of being stuck in the past traumatic event that happened when she was in the U.S. military.”

Bella (Shelby) in Columbia Pictures’ A DOG’S WAY HOME.

A Dog’s Way Home is a break from the world in which we’re living today,” concludes Judd. “It’s a reminder that we all have really deep needs for connection, belonging, purpose… and those needs are reflected in the movie through Bella’s journey.”

In Philippine cinemas February 6, A Dog’s Way Home is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. #ADogsWayHome