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The Nic Cage Crime Drama That's Killing It On Netflix

Nicolas Cage is an institution unto himself. Over the years, the actor's strange ways and peculiar performance style have resulted in plenty of movies at both ends of the Rotten Tomatoes scale. He's equally likely to give us a nuanced all-time classic role as he is to whip out one of his legendarily crazy characterizations. Both versions of the actor are, of course, hugely entertaining, just in wildly different ways. 

Thanks to Cage's truly gigantic output, it's easy to miss a movie or six from the guy. Fortunately, Netflix tends to have at least some of his films at hand, which gives us the chance to jump into the Cage-verse whenever we desire. Likewise, the streaming service gives relatively little-known Cage movies the chance to shine. Such is the case with The Frozen Ground, a 2013 serial killer thriller that's currently sitting pretty on Netflix's prestigious Top Ten list. What is the movie about? Is it worth a watch? Which version of Mr. Cage does it feature? Let's take a closer look at the Nic Cage crime drama that's killing it on Netflix.

What is The Frozen Ground about?

The Frozen Ground is based on the terrible crimes of real-life serial killer Robert Hansen, and as befits its grim subject matter, Nic Cage gives a subdued and strong performance. Cage plays Alaska State Trooper Jack Halcombe, who starts suspecting that several missing person cases in the Anchorage area are actually murders committed by Hansen (John Cusack), a seemingly upstanding family man, restaurant owner and pillar of community. Halcombe joins forces with Cindy Paulson (Vanessa Hudgens), a sex worker who survived an encounter with Hansen, and soon, the cop and the killer start their lethal cat-and-mouse game. 

The Frozen Ground was the directorial debut of Scott Walker, who also wrote the script. Apart from the stellar starring trio, the movie features some excellent supporting actors, including Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as Clate Johnson and Breaking Bad's Dean Norris as Sgt. Lyle Haugsven. Interestingly, The Frozen Ground also reunites Cage and Cusack, who previously worked together in 1997's Con Air – only, this time Cusack is the criminal and Cage is the police officer.  

What are the critics saying about The Frozen Ground?

While Nic Cage has certainly made good movies, he's not always what you'd call a critical darling. Historically, the actor is quite fond of appearing in films that can perhaps better be ranked by their general Nic Cage-ness than their Rotten Tomatoes score. This seems to be the case with The Frozen Ground, which sees its critics divided on both sides of the "worth a watch" fence. Rogerebert.com's Sheila O'Malley gave the film a solid three out of four stars, praising the urgency the actors are able to convey, but noting that the plot's not exactly breaking new ground: "[...] "The Frozen Ground is not trying to re-invent the wheel, and it also isn't trying to imitate Seven or Silence of the Lambs. It is interested in Holcombe's increasingly urgent investigation, and the pushback he receives from higher-ups who don't want to re-open what were considered to be closed cases." Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times was less pleased with the movie, particularly criticizing its "choppy" editing. "Although writer-director Scott Walker seems committed to not overly exploiting his lurid subject matter," Goldstein writes, "The movie is just too dreary, disjointed and generically creepy to be persuasive." 

All in all, it seems that the movie's appeal largely depends on whether you find the idea of Nic Cage chasing a serial killer in the snowy swathes of Alaska enticing or not. The very fact that the movie's currently enjoying a nice streaming service renaissance should be enough to prove that many viewers find the concept irresistible.  

The Frozen Ground is now streaming on Netflix.