The Butcher Baker

Nicolas Cage in The Frozen Ground (2013)

With just a few weeks left before he is finished on the force Alaska Trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) is handed a file to do with Cyndy Paulsen (Vanessa Hudgens) whose claims of being raped and almost murdered by Robert Hansen (John Cusack) were ignored due to her hooker background. Convinced that Hansen, a baker, not only attempted to murder Paulsen but is behind a series of other murders Halcombe struggles to get the evidence he needs and knows that his only hope of getting Hansen is of winning Cyndy's trust so that she will help him. Not easy when she is scared and has been betrayed before.

First things first and it is worth knowing that "The Frozen Ground" is based on the true story of serial killer Robert Hansen who between 1971 and 1983 raped and murdered at least 17 girls. Actually this isn't so much about Hansen but in this case Sergeant Jack Halcombe, a character based on a real person but with a different name, and his attempt to bring Hansen to justice. And let me say that whilst gritty and grizzly "The Frozen Ground" is nothing you won't have seen before in other movies about an officer of the law trying to capture a serial killer.

John Cusack in The Frozen Ground (2013)

As such what we get in "The Frozen Ground" is a look at how Halcombe had to first find Cyndy and then earn her trust but also deal with those in power unwilling to back him due to their not being enough solid evidence which of course causes frustration until he finally manages to pull Hansen in for interrogation. Maybe it is me but whilst all of this is interesting and well made it doesn't really feel that original, relying on going for shocks from drug taking to decomposed bodies to really get a reaction from the audience. Although in fairness when the movie finally brings Cage and Cusack head to head in the interrogation room it gets pretty intense and memorably entertaining.

And that for me is where "The Frozen Ground" impresses as Nicolas Cage once again reminds us of what he is capable of. There is a nice amount of depth which Cage gives Halcombe making him determined as well as nice but not by any means perfect. And at the same time Vanessa Hudgens also gives us plenty of layers to the character of Cyndy making her troubled but not a cliche and puts herself out there in a raw yet controlled way. The one kind of disappointment is John Cusack but that is more down to the script which until he is pulled in for questioning doesn't allow the actor to give us anything other than edgy mannerisms.

What this all boils down to is that "The Frozen Ground" is an effective drama with some darkness to it which draws you in and some graphic scenes which might shock you. But the thing is that whilst it is well made and well acted there isn't anything which makes this any better than any other crime story out there.

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