Review: The Frozen Ground (2013)

The Frozen Ground is an absorbing true-life thriller, well shot and featuring Nicolas Cage’s best performance in a while.

Posted January 13, 2014 by
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Nic Cage in The Frozen Ground

 
Film Info
 

Director(s): Scott Walker
 
Writer(s): Scott Walker
 
Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson
 
Genre: Thriller
 
Synopsis: An Alaska State Trooper in his last stint on the job is assigned the case of a string of missing girls. However when he relies on the aid of a recently attacked young prostitute, the case becomes a complex puzzle in pursuit of bringing the sadistic killer to justice.
 
US Release Date: 23 August 2013
 
UK Release Date: 19 July 2013
 
UK DVD Release: 13 January 2014
 
Acting
 
 
 
 
 


 
Direction
 
 
 
 
 


 
Enjoyment
 
 
 
 
 


 
Soundtrack
 
 
 
 
 


 
Story
 
 
 
 
 


 
Total Score
 
 
 
 
 
4/5


Your Rating
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Peaks


It is gripping, the central trio captivate and the true story at the film’s core has power to it.

Troughs


Certain subplots stretch the story to places it needn’t go and the film is occasionally clichéd in terms of structure.


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The front cover boldly proclaims a review line, that links Scott Walker’s new film to David Fincher’s Se7en. That is a bit of stretch but that in no way is to diminish what an unsuspectingly effective thriller this is. From the very start The Frozen Ground carries an illusive and menacing vibe with it and, while altering aspects of its true story, the fundamental evil remains seethingly well represented. The Frozen Ground, much like Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia and Dennis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, stars major talent but in no way glosses what is a cold and calculating tale of murder.

True, the story is scattered with a few clichés (the last days on the job lead, the victim finding her strength, etc.), yet it feels rather chilling and undeniably effective. The Frozen Ground does occasionally veer off (Curtis Jackson’s pimp character especially feels a bit much) but Walker’s keen eye for engrossing you in the harsh climate and harsher human cruelty defines the story, keeping you engaged. Patrick Murguia’s cinematography grounds the story in the vastness and harshness of the Alaskan setting and Walker allows this story to play out atop it. However one of the biggest factors that contribute to engraining this thriller in the memory, is the effectiveness of the cast’s performances.

Nicolas Cage may have a sullied reputation now more than ever, off the back of recent films like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Stolen and Trespass but this is Cage’s best performance since Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Cage brings a fire to Jack Halcombe and a determination that transcends any familiar backstories and makes him a thoroughly anchored moral point to the movie. John Cusack similarly is given room to flex in a creeping and methodically sinister part and as real life killer Robert Hansen; he brings a real threat to the film. Vanessa Hudgens is also impressive as central victim/survivor Cindy and is the central point for some of the film’s more nail-biting sequences. The film also offers terrific support from Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris, Silent Hill’s Radha Mitchell and TransformersKevin Dunn.

The Frozen Ground may not have the lasting imprint of the likes of Zodiac as far as true-life based serial killer thrillers are concerned but it is a suspenseful journey. A film that takes the audiences into the mind-set of a predatory killer and that effectively shows how the law can be a hindrance instead of a help. This film successfully warrants a viewing and stands as evidence that Nicolas Cage is a fine actor, wrongly labelled with the same wrongful stereotyping as Johnny Depp is nowadays. In short, give The Frozen Ground a chance, it is far thicker than you’d think (sticking with the ice metaphor).

 

DVD Extras:

‘Examining The Frozen Ground’ Featurette and Cast/Crew Interviews.

 


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