The Frozen Ground review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
he Frozen Ground, a psychological crime thriller that boasts some fine acting from not only John Cusack and Nicholas Cage but also Vanessa Hudgens, an actress who has been looking for a vehicle to impress with, has more aspirations than accomplishments with the films final words lacking the punch they rightly deserve.
The film follows Sergeant Jack Halcombe (Cage) as he is assigned his final case with the Alaska State Troopers, an investigation into the disappearance of multiple girls, some found, others not. He finds assistance from local prostitute Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens), a woman who was kidnapped and raped by Robert Hansen (Cusack), an upstanding member of the community and a sadistic murderer to boot.
It’s not that the film is bad although I’m not saying its good either, it’s just that it doesn’t tell its interesting and disturbing story with enough guts or style to really make the film a piece of entertainment. Director and writer Scott Walker is so enamoured by the truth the film is based on that he forgets he is constructing a film for entertainment purposes. While having the usual plot points and tension filled chases, the films dramatic scenes lack depth.
The whole exercise feels like a true crime documentary, the characters don’t feel real because Walker has ironically stuck to the facts. Cage’s Halcombe is one cliche after another as he brings heart to a character crafted out of tragic backstory and moral authority. Without Cage he would be just another irritating detective from a late night TV procedural.
Cusack is just the right amount of depraved to pull Hansen off. Full of malice and venom, Hansen hides it behind fake charm and bravado something Cusack has proven time after time he is excellent at. His disguise must obviously falter but Cusack manages to make Hansen’s fall almost poetic despite the predictable and lazy nature of the films final act.
Unsure of what its really trying to do, the film attempts to honor the people Hansen killed and the lives he ruined along the way but the film somehow trivializes what happened due to the half hearted approach the filmmaker took and the predictable yet honest depiction of the story.