By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, generic-looking serial killer flick from nobody you’ve heard of pretty much heading straight to DVD. We all know how this story ends, right?
Not in a shower of self-respect and Oscars, that’s for sure
The Frozen Ground recounts the true story of prolific Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen (Cusack) and the two weeks from retirement law officer intent on putting him behind bars (Cage). That pretty much covers it.
Actually… this flick is pretty decent. The polished direction of Scott Walker knows what it wants to accomplish and takes care of business in an appealing if not groundbreaking way. He has a long career of churning out quality Hollywood thrillers ahead of him. The Alaskan setting is taken advantage of with frequent beautiful shots of snowcapped mountains and forest, and the production design creates a grim, realistic, and period appropriate atmosphere for the story to take place in.
The acting is solid all-around, with an unusually restrained performance from Cage playing well off of Cusack’s nervous tic infused regular guy masking a demon portrayal of Hansen. Both of these guys are clearly putting an effort into their performances, which is a welcome departure from most of their recent roles. The supporting cast is also peppered with recognizable and welcome faces, like Dean Norris (Hank from Breaking Bad!) and, hey, is that 50 Cent!?!
Perhaps the definitive portrayal of an 80s African American Alaskan pimp
There’s a weak link in that cast, though, and it’s named Vanessa Hudgens. Right from the very first scene, in which her hysterical screeching must have made dogs wail for miles around, she’s over the top and out of her element playing the hooker with the heart of gold who’s the detective’s only real lead on Hansen.
Well, she can play half of that equation, I guess
The plotline is about as conventional as it gets (see: “Hooker with a Heart of Gold” above) right up to the interrogation room confession scene that wraps things up (spoilers if you’ve never seen or even heard of a police procedural TV show, in which case, congratulations on just being born!)
Everything must feel like an acid trip right now, huh?
The Frozen Ground isn’t anything groundbreaking, but scratches that cops and criminals movie itch you may have pretty well.
Take a Drink: every time a girl goes missing
Take a Drink: whenever someone denies or questions that a crime took place
Take a Drink: whenever you wonder how the hell Hansen stayed free that long
Take a Drink: for every bird’s eye transition shot of Alaskan wilderness
Take a Drink: whenever John Cusack makes your skin crawl (for whatever reason)
Do a Shot: every time Vanessa Hudgens makes you consider rooting for Cusack