Sunday 5 May 2024

Movie Review: The Frozen Ground (2013)

Genre: Crime Drama  
Director: Scott Walker  
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Vanessa Hudgens, John Cusack, Radha Mitchell, 50 Cent  
Running Time: 105 minutes  

Synopsis: In Anchorage of 1983, prostitute Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens) escapes from the clutches of brutal rapist Robert Hanson (John Cusack). Local officers do not pursue charges, but State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) investigates similarities to unsolved disappearance and murder cases of other women across Alaska dating back to the early 1970s, all circumstantially connected to Hanson. Without enough evidence to secure a warrant, Jack tries to convince Cindy to cooperate, but she just wants to disappear into the sex trade. Meanwhile, Hanson hunts down more victims.

What Works Well: Based on actual events, this is a grim procedural emphasizing dogged police work and the struggles of marginalized victims. Director Scott Walker leverages a stark Alaska entering the grips of winter to create an overbearing sense of gloom, whether on remote icefields or within the city's seedy corners. Nicolas Cage loads the weight of invisible suffering onto tired but determined shoulders, and the toll of the investigation on Halcombe's marriage to Allie (Radha Mitchell) adds a layer of emotional exhaustion. John Cusack is chilling as the seemingly soulless antagonist finding fertile hunting grounds in a milieu of strip clubs and prostitution rooms.

What Does Not Work As Well: Within the limited running time, the focus is split three ways between Halcombe, Cindy, and Hanson. All are afforded tantalizing glimpses of intriguing but not fully realized depth. Cindy's repeated capacity to escape into trouble becomes a tiresome distraction.

Conclusion: A suitably cold view of evil preying on society's most vulnerable.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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