"Redeeming Lost Women"
THE FROZEN GROUND gives a chilling look at the hunt for the notorious real-life serial predator, Robert Hansen (John Cusack), who preyed upon women in the 1970s and 80s in Alaska.
Set in 1983, the story follows loving father and husband Sgt. Jack Holcombe (played by Nicolas Cage). Jack pours over case files, leads his fellow officers and combs the streets to track down Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens). As the sole surviving victim who’s escaped the serial predator’s clutches, Cindy’s testimony is crucial to put away a killer who’s slipped past police hands too many times.
Though not a Christian movie per se, THE FROZEN GROUND begins by displaying Matthew 10:16 on-screen: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves,” while ominous music floats overhead. Then, it plunges viewers into a post-crime sequence in the city of Anchorage, Alaska.
As the movie progresses, Sgt. Holcombe and his partners comb the gritty streets where prostitutes work, doggedly searching for Cindy. The officers also question people in strip clubs, all in the name of finding her and tracking the serial killer’s victims.
THE FROZEN GROUND is a well constructed, absorbing crime thriller. However, the police visits to strip clubs to find the serial killer’s one surviving victim and to track the killer’s movements contains blatant scenes of female nudity in lewd, sexually-objectifying bars.
That said, the script treats the subject of murder and the vulnerability of the women’s welfare seriously, however. For instance, the dancers’ nakedness reveals their sad, dehumanized state. The movie doesn’t paint their workplaces as attractive, but as places that debase women and the men who frequent such places. The level and amount of nudity necessitates the most extreme caution, even though it realistically shows how women are debased in such horrid environments. Such degrading places reflects the ugly tone that surrounds real women in these environments night after night across the U.S. and the rest of the world, in cities and rural areas alike.
Much of THE FROZEN GROUND surrounds the heartfelt search by Holcomb and his fellow officers. However, a couple brief scenes contain CSI-type gore, visually depicting a decrepit body.
Also, MOVIEGUIDE® issues a strong caution regarding a few detailed conversations about sexual situations and about rape. These acts aren’t shown, but the alarmingly graphic specifics keep THE FROZEN GROUND from being family friendly.
After sifting out the chaff, THE FROZEN GROUND tells a strong story of a policeman who works to find Cindy and shelter her with the sincere care and attention of a father. In one argument with a close relative who scoffs at the lengths he goes to in order to save the girl, Cage’s character responds with a line that reflects powerful, Christ-like love. Also, Cindy’s statements and questions about her own family background pointedly speak to the importance of making sure all children have a responsible, protective mother and father.
Cage’s portrayal of Sgt. Holcombe believably shows a determined officer and tender family man. His deep respect for human life fuels him to dig through the frozen ground of old cases new and old in order to stop Hansen in his tracks.
A poignant, nearly silent, scene where Cindy encounters a wild animal stands in stark contrast to the ugliness of the world she lives in and the situations with Hansen she and others have undergone. Writer/director Scott Walker makes a wonderful, creative decision to incorporate this method of showing such a comparison between the complex sin man creates and the simple, natural beauty of God’s creation.
Perhaps similar to SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE FROZEN GROUND contains a very good story, but also very explicit content – though the content here is sparsely dotted through the movie.
MOVIEGUIDE® recommends viewing other selections and websites for less salacious and more informative information on prostitution and sex trafficking issues. See our reviews of the narrative movie TRADE OF INNOCENTS and the documentary NEFARIOUS. Like pornography, sex trafficking is a scourge in society that preys on the weak and the young.
(BB, C, LLL, VV, SS, NN, A, DD, M) Strong moral worldview with light Christian, redemptive elements about catching a real-life serial killer includes police detective hero is a loving father and husband, good eventually defeats evil, movie quotes Matthew 10:16 onscreen, and dignity/worth is given to lost women involved in prostitution; at least 35 obscenities and profanities (including some “f” words and strong profanities); strong violence includes men beaten and shot, discussion of sexual and brutal violence crimes against women, images of a decomposed murder victim, brief images of kidnapping and violence against one woman victim; strong sexual content includes scenes set in strip clubs, and prostitution details and sexual violence toward women and murder victims are discussed and alluded to in the dialogue; upper and rear female nudity in strip clubs; some alcohol use; smoking and a person facilitates use of an illicit drug and two people use the drug; and, kidnapping.
THE FROZEN GROUND stars Nicholas Cage as determined police sergeant Jack Holcombe trying to track down a serial killer. Jack must gain the trust of a young woman caught in the sex trade to catch the killer. As the movie progresses, he and his partners comb the gritty streets where prostitutes work, doggedly searching for Cindy. The officers also question people in strip clubs, all in the name of finding her and tracking the serial killer’s movements.
THE FROZEN GROUND is based on a true story. It contains brief, but very explicit, scenes. However, it tells a story for adult viewers that’s contemporary, yet timeless and redemptive. The story features a heroic policeman on a dogged, gritty search for a madman. This hero carries a heart of gold to protect and redeem a portion of society that many have thrown away. His deep respect for human life fuels his determination to dig through the frozen ground of old cases new and old to stop a vicious serial killer. It’s the explicit details, however, that keep THE FROZEN GROUND from being family friendly.