A pretty low-key yet very effective performance by Nicolas Cage here. He plays a determined investigator of an Alaskan serial killer, who is patient and methodical but at the same time very passionate about the case for personal reasons. He works closely with the only escaped victim (Vanessa Hudgens) and gets attached to the girl, who reminds him of his long lost sister. There is quiet intensity in him, and even though there are no action scenes, no heroics, the part is still pretty engaging and memorable.
Unfortunately, The Frozen Ground completely bombed at the box office. If it goes on like this I won't be surprised if Nicolas eventually gets himself relegated to co-leading and supporting roles a bit later in his career. He can be very effective in those (remember his awesome Big Daddy in Kick-Ass?), but his leading man numbers have been pretty terrible since around 2009 when he had his last hit with Knowing. For now though he has quite a few movies lined up, and he plays leading roles in all of them, so clearly he still has some residual star power.
Starting grade: This is a tricky one. Nicolas has been an A-lister for decades, and he was still a steady money-maker with only occasional flops not that long ago (mid-00's). Now, however, his career looks a bit shaky. Let's call it 70 for now, shall we?
Review: The Frozen Ground (2013)
Nicolas Cage grade sheet