MOVIE REVIEW: THE FROZEN GROUND

"The Frozen Ground" is based on real event, depicting one of America's deadliest serial killings in the history. Robert Hansen (John Cusack) seems like an ordinary citizen, a father of two and he runs a pastry store in Anchorage, Alaska. But Robert lives a double life, preying on young women before goes on to sexually assault and kills his victim in cold blood. 17-year old Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens) is a prostitute who becomes the one and only who managed to escape Robert's unspoken terrors so far. She eventually becomes a reluctant ally to Sargeant Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) who was assigned to the case and is determined to end Robert's killing rampage. But Jack finds himself in dire trying to outsmart Robert while also struggling to protect Cindy as Robert seeks out to silence her for good.



Genre: Drama/Thriller
Classification: 18
Release Date: 22 August 2013
Running Time: 105 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate (via Mm2 Entertainment Sdn Bhd)
Director: Scott Walker
Screenplay: Scott Walker
Starring: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Dean Norris

Plot: THE FROZEN GROUND is inspired by the incredible true story that follows Alaskan State Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) as he sets out to end the murderous rampage of Robert Hansen (John Cusack), a serial killer who has gone unnoticed for 13 years. As the bodies of street girls start to pile up in Anchorage, fear strikes a chord with the public. Risking his life, Halcombe goes on a personal manhunt to find the killer before the next body surfaces. When a seventeen year old escapee (Vanessa Hudgens) reveals key information about the case, Halcombe is finally on the trail of the killer. But will he catch him in time to save the next victim?
This Scott Walker-directed feature looks like some extended TV pilot episode which mimics the recent spawns of several cult murder franchises. But in reality, "The Frozen Ground" is actually a neat and too carefully-written, but otherwise a mediocre at best and occasionally sluggish movie that pits some level of intensity on the old-school methodology. The story takes on the most basic for any police procedural story lines and turn them into at least a watchable 105-minute long of grounded psychological game. But even when the movie does not offers anything new or attempting to be anywhere ambitious, the movie benefits greatly from strong performances by Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. Cage, in particular, seems to be the man reborn with baptism fire by nailing the clock-raging detective's role with solid punch. Cusack plays the psychopath role with much depth though the script does not allow him to go beyond the border.

Of course, the movie is not made without things it should have done in the first place, as if no attempt has been emphasized and bigger scope to make it more than just a tell-and-show running on the thread mill. While the movie is strictly contrived on the sole of purpose of finding credible evidences to nail the antagonist, the script forgets to touch on the higher emotional stakes and to provide a clearer cause and effect exposition. The script is not doing enough justice to allow the characters to grow. The plot should have gone bold enough to tackle some of the elements in this movie which by the end are truly wasted and unexplored. For example, those who are unfamiliar with this case will be left wondering on the motivation and trigger behind Hansen's rampage when the whole empathy and sympathy could have been thrown in. And then there is a slight curiosity on what are Cindy's purpose in the story besides becoming a key witness in the investigation but largely being aimless in the whole movie?

In the end, "The Frozen Ground" lacks in some aspects of providing a solid movie filled with intensity, psychological and character warfare. But it nevertheless resorts into a more subtle approach and moderate tempo of watchable-yet-goofy regular police procedural drama fueled by Cage and Cusack's strong performances.

If you are unsure about We're the Millers, watch the full length trailer here and get the early picture:


MY RATING:
Story: 3.0
Casts: 4.0
Cinematography: 3.5
Effects: 3.5
GREEN-TEA-O-METER: 13.5/20.0

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About Bernard Chung

Bernard Patrick Chung. Malaysian. Chinese. Biochemical engineering graduate. Movie buff. Writes for Green Tea Movie!! Coldplay, Linkin Park, and Muse. Christopher Nolan and J.J. Abrams. Android and Sony. Manchester United F.C. and Red Bull Racing.