Nicholas Cage can be a man tough to take seriously, despite coming across as such an earnest professional in interviews. The Frozen Ground is an example of him trying to find a serious, interesting role but turning it into a mild Cage pastiche, albeit without the unintentional humour which can accompany his performances. It’s got a bland TV movie feel, a little bit like an extended episode of any number of US detective shows. Based on a true story (what isn’t?), Cage plays a detective on a personal manhunt against serial killer Robert Hansen, played by John Cusack, an actor who comes with his own set of onscreen challenges. Supporting performances arrive from Vanessa Hudgens and 50 Cent making for some really eccentric casting.
It’s directed by debutant Scott Walker who plays his unique cast with a straight face. The film begins by feeling like something with the grittiness and shakycam of Paul Greengrass, but that’s toned downed as the film goes on. It bombs along with a competent, straightforward manhunt but it lacks any attempt to explain what makes Cage’s cop tick, whose tone of voice rarely waivers. The poster declares it the ‘new Se7en‘, a fact you’re constantly reminded of while watching the movie but really it’s only run-of-the-mill at best. It’s all very serious, just without the necessary gravitas. When you consider this comes up on the back of some Cage’s real b-movie stinkers (Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Stolen, Trespass, Justice, Drive Angry…), it at least proves the only way was indeed up.
Review by David Rank
The Frozen Ground is out now in the UK and out on 23rd August in the US . Running time 105 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).