Based on the book The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold Blooded Killer by Anthony Bruno and the documentary The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With a Killer by James Thebaut comes a theatrical look into the life of one of the most notorious contract killers ever, Richard “The Iceman” Kuklinski. It is believed that in his lifetime a minimum of one hundred people met their demise at the hands of Kuklinski. It also believed that the number of victims could very well be over two hundred, all killed by the same man. For Kuklinski, killing was a way of life, it was simply business. In an interview he was asked if he felt regret for any of the terrible things he did; he said the only thing he regretted was hurting his family, the murders didn’t matter to him, only his family mattered.
In this film “The Iceman” is played with complete conviction by Michael Shannon and he really brings a sense of what the real life killer was like. He had a temper and the smallest offense could bring him to kill. Disrespecting him, depending on how much so, could get a person killed; but even mention his family in a derogatory fashion and you wouldn’t have time to blink. He was cold blooded, efficient and empty inside. Something he always said was that if he could, he would have never left home; he hated leaving but business was business. From 1948 to 1986 his life was about death; whoever needed to be dead he made them so by order of the mafia. During this time period his family had no concept of Kuklinski’s second life. They believed him to be a business man of some kind who just had a bad temper.
Also starring in the biopic is Winona Ryder as Deborah Pellicotti who was, for many years, Kuklinski’s wife. Together they had two daughters, whom after he was arrested never saw their father alive again. Chris Evans stars as “Mr. Freezy” and gives a very chilling performance as a co-conspirator contract killer who, for a time, assists Kuklinski in several murders. Ray Liotta stars as Roy Demeo, a mob boss who gives Kuklinski his “big break” into the world of organized crime and murder. Some honorable mentions are James Franco and Stephen Dorff as Joey, Kuklinski’s brother.
Where this movie truly shines is in the performance given by Michael Shannon. If you watch the documentary about Kuklinski and really listen to how this man talked, it makes Shannon’s performance all the more haunting. Shannon showcases a wonderful balance of an empty soul, anger, hate and violence. And in the moments with the family, he shows a soft side; never striking his wife like his father did to him. Kuklinski’s early life was very troubled and Shannon really brings out the anger that Kuklinski eventually channelled into a career (of sorts). Evans also puts in a great effort as a fellow heartless killer who becomes infamous for selling ice cream and killing people all from the same ice cream truck.
This has wonderful direction with a decent enough script, but in the end could have been even better had more explanation been given on some of the murders he committed. The film shows how he got his start; it gives a small window into his past and tells of what his future had in store for him. I had been waiting a long time to see this and it mostly lived up to what I wanted to see. The Iceman has a limite On September 3rd I would highly recommend picking this one up on Blu-ray or DVD.
Rated R for: strong violence, pervasive language and some sexual content
Run Time: 105 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, James Franco, Stephen Dorff
Directed By: Ariel Vromen
On Blu-ray/DVD: September 3, 2013
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 3
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls