Winning The Lottery With Nicolas Cage #68

My name is Ed, and I am still slogging through the slim pickings that are the recent works of Nicolas Cage, because even though a lot of these films are bad, I still ostensibly believe that by picking six numbers connected to them, I will win the National Lottery

The Frozen Ground (2013)

It’s another Con Air reunion, and a role reversal of sorts, as this time John Cusack plays the criminal to Nic Cage’s copper. The Frozen Ground is a more of less true story about the Alaskan serial killer Robert Hansen (Cusack) and his eventual arrest after the escape of would-have-been victim Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens from off of High School Musical). Cage plays an invented character apparently based on a number of real law enforcement officials, because he is Cage, and he contains multitudes.

Cage’s performance is not flashy, but it also avoids the ‘subdued to the point of coma’ stuff he can sometimes end up in when trying to tone things down — there’s a sort of low, bubbling intensity: the sense that he could go Full Cage at any moment, even if he never quite does. It shows that he is, or at least can be, a much more thoughtful performer than he’s often given credit for. Although if you’re voluntarily going to appear in stuff like Season of the Witch you can’t really complain that people think you’re quite shit now for some reason.

The non-Cage cast are pretty solid, although anyone familiar with the High School Musical series may have the odd sensation that Vanessa Hudgens is at any moment about to start singing a song about being an underage prostitute.

There are other things to like about The Frozen Ground — production was apparently delayed 5 months so director Scott Walker (not that one) could shoot the location sequences at just the right time of year, and it paid off, if you like looking at lots of beautifully shot bleak bits of Alaska on the cusp of winter, which I apparently do.

In the end something doesn’t quite work about The Frozen Ground — I don’t know whether there’s something fundamentally uncinematic about the events it’s depicting or if it’s a failure of the adaptation process, but ultimately it’s just a bit straightforward. We know what’s going on, the characters basically know what’s going on, so it’s just a waiting game for them to find something that will actually prove it. It’s more frustrating than it is tense, slightly too strung out for it’s own good with not enough to fill the gaps other than yet another scene of Cage looking intense in the cold.

The Frozen Ground is a well-made, but slightly too basic thriller. I mean, there’s only so much artistic license one should probably take with this kind of thing, and it’s in some ways fine tribute to the dogged persistence of the man/men who brought down a serial killer, but it doesn’t quite work as a film. Which is a problem, because it is one.

THE NUMBERS:

7 — Cindy says that Robert Hansen told her he’d taken 7 girls before her.

10 — The film opens with a quote from the Bible — Matthew 10:16. It’s good to include a quote from the Bible at the beginning of a film because then the audience knows it’s a really important and worthwhile film.

18 — Cindy initially claims to be 23, but later admits that she’s actually 18. I mean, Vanessa Hudgens was actually 24 when they made it but it’s just pretend.

21 — Cage’s character’s sister was killed by a drunk driver on his 21st birthday.

23 — Hansen used a .223 caliber rifle to shoot at things, including young women. Is it weird to be effectively picking numbers based on a real serial killer?

30 — The film is set in 1983, 30 years before it was released. Because that’s how time works.

THE RESULT:

Well, at least I didn’t win any money (two numbers on the main ticket and one on the Lucky Dip I won last time) so we now know for certain that serial killing is bad and that you shouldn’t do it. Phew!

NEXT TIME ON NICOLAS CAGE:

Joe

PREVIOUSLY:

Apparently Medium makes it quite hard to find previous instalments of this so I have made a sort of index thing, here.

DISCLAIMER:

Do not spend your money on lottery tickets because you think watching Nicolas Cage films will enable you to win the lottery. The only real winner in the lottery is the lottery, bad artists, and people who actually win the lottery.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.