Written & Directed By: Scott Walker
Cinematography By: Patrick Murguia
Editor: Sarah Boyd
Cast: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens, Dean Norris, Gia Mantegna, Brad William Henke, Curtis Jackson, Kevin Dunn, Radha Mitchell, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe
Alaska Trooper Jack Holcombe believes Robert Hansen is a serial killer who abducts young girls, tortures and sexually assaults them, then kills them. But Holcombe doesn’t have enough evidence to get a search warrant for Hansen’s premises. Holcombe knows that one victim, Cyndy Paulsen, somehow survived, so he decides to seek her help, but he finds that she’s now a junkie with trust issues. Holcombe has to earn her trust; meanwhile, Hansen is still hunting and killing girls.
The film luckily offers not as many Nicolas cage cliche freakouts as he plays his role here more straight and narrow.
John Cusack is the surprise here even though He plays it straight which might turn a typical audience away from the film as it isn’t going to have the payoff that is expected. He doesn’t really get to shine until the last act of the film. Before it is purely facial and physical. That makes you wonder if he is just a face to inhabit the Villain.
We follow not only the detective, but the killer a little less would have been nice to see the killer’s day-to-day life and see if it particularly tortures him like an addiction or if he had any questions about his actions.
We also follow the survivor played by Vanessa Hudgens as she tries to go on With her life with plenty of bumps along the way as the case isn’t publicized and she isn’t some celebrated victim or even protected. In fact, as she was previously a prostitute no one really takes her too seriously, and now has to go back to a dangerous lifestyle that got her nearly killed in the first place. She gives it her all, again might have been nice to see her try and go straight it get a better life. It’s strange but telling of the film’s quality and the changing face of distribution that while the film has a high caliber cast and director of today and not so long ago this film never made it to theaters and instead premiered on direct to DVD/streaming.
Though it’s off-putting funny when she begins to talk street-tough all of a sudden with a pimp. But at least she gives it an honest try and does not go into cliche. Though the bonding of the characters would have been nice gradual over time instead of exposing history all in one scene.
50 cent (credited under his real name Curtis Jackson) is also one of the film’s producers. Is getting to be a better actor playing the smarmy/seamier type of roles. Though his appearance is more of a surprise.
Though due to the casting we already know when the killer is and what we are to expect. It’s only in his they catch him. It’s less s thriller than trying to finally get him and for her to testify. Though in scenes with his family. You sense darkness and vitality about him.
The suspense comes in towards the third act. As it finally gets thrilling. As there is some before that but it truly intensifies in the last act.
The film taking place in such a remote land. Help make the action feel small scale even though tawdry. And as the film sticks to more of the real-life story. The film is absent of scenes of hunting or chases or even graphic violence. More focusing like a LAW & ORDER episode on catching the killer before he kills again. Rather than seeing his violent actions. Maybe as it is based on a true story they could only go with known Information and not flesh out the characters that the story could have had more than one would expect. The film doesn’t seem to break out of its own procedural ways. Should feel a bit bigger or more meaningful to a degree. The film keeps your interest but never truly engages you emotionally
In the final scenes, the suspense is felt as Cage gets frustrated as no evidence can be found. Which questioning him and keeps getting updates and upset. That is when the film manages to get a reaction out of the audience.
The film reminds me of the early days of so-called serial killing investigations. Before they were known to the general public. The hard work out in so that research was there and available for the private investigation Barely and at times In the film that comes in time and again. The ending hammers home the tragedy of the story for all of its entertainment