The Frozen Ground Offers Little More Than A Callous Police Procedural


We’re saturated with police procedurals. We’ve got the staccato story beats of Law & Order and the legato measures of season-long mysteries like The Killing and Broadchurch. The Frozen Ground hits the familiar notes. Its dogged cop is Nicolas Cage as Alaska state trooper Jack Holcombe; its crafty killer is John Cusack, playing real-life serial rapist and murderer Robert Hansen. There’s also young prostitute Cindy Paulson, an escaped victim who starts the investigation rolling; she’s played by Vanessa Hudgens, inexpertly swearing like only a former Disney star can. Unlike Paulson and Hansen, Holcombe is an amalgamation, and the unification of several different investigators results in Cage’s earnest supercop who’s everywhere at once, unless the story needs him to be one step behind the action. As Hansen, Cusack makes little impression—is he letting the cruelty of his actions speak for themselves, or just coasting toward a paycheck? The climactic interrogation wraps up neatly and just in time, much more like a story “based on actual events” than the events themselves. Before the credits roll, real photos of Hansen’s victims are shown, one after the other, reminding us that behind this dour cop drama, real women died. On the soundtrack, a rock anthem kicks in.