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Cold Pursuit
  • Composed by George Fenton
  • Varèse Sarabande / 49m

In stark contrast to all his other recent films, Cold Pursuit stars Liam Neeson as a wronged man on the hunt for revenge. (The press materials for this album describe him as “Liam Neeson, Taken, Taken 2-3.”) It was all rather overshadowed by the actor’s unfortunate comments on a chat show just before it was released (but let’s face it, may not have been spectacularly successful anyway). Of most note to those around these parts is that it marks the return to Hollywood filmmaking of the wonderful composer George Fenton after a gap that’s far too long – and while it’s perhaps not the sort of project I might have expected him to take (nor, frankly, would have chosen) it’s great to have him back. It opens with a lovely theme – “Snow Plough” – all lightness and good-natured, with what sounds like a balalaika and gentle strings. You just know it’s not going to be like that for long though and, sure enough, the second track “Citizen of the Year” is cold (if subtle) and then the third, the title track, is agitated and rhythmic (a bit Thomas Newman-like), synths come in, that balalaika again but not all happy now.

That track features a little melodic figure which actually appears quite a lot through the rest of the track, including in the next cue “News of Kyle” – which goes very hardcore synth near its end. Things go very cold and dark in “The Funeral” and then there’s some extremely heavy electro-action in “Speedo” (hearing George Fenton writing EDM is not what I expected at all – and indeed it’s one of several tracks co-credited to electronic producer Dan Carey). Much of the score is really very bleak – sometimes subtle and atmospheric, sometimes simply brutal. The black comedy which often comes from the balalaika does provide some very nice relief. “Turf War at Nel’s” is the standout cue – atmospheric winds, electronics and cold strings all come together very well. After that, “Doing My Job” is a nice reprise of the opening cue before a lengthy end credits piece sums up most of the score’s main ideas. Despite his reputation for lush, romantic symphonic music, Cold Pursuit is not entirely out of character for Fenton – but expect one of his more difficult thriller scores, not something like the wonderfully Herrmann-esque Final Analysis. The score’s quirkier elements are my favourites and what makes it worth getting – the harsher material not really to my taste and a bit harder going and the heaviest action music by design is really rather unpleasant. Still, it’s very nice to have Fenton back – it’s been too long.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. Cap. Quinn Smyslov (Reply) on Wednesday 17 April, 2019 at 17:21

    Found this a decent listen with more variety than we often get, but I did hope for a bit more from Fenton’s return.

    Can’t wait for your review of US!

  2. MPC (Reply) on Wednesday 25 January, 2023 at 01:51

    Would love to see you review more of Fenton’s past works, like DANGEROUS BEAUTY and EVER AFTER (which is a personal favorite of mine). The latter works gangbusters in the film and outside of it.