{2jtab: Movie Review}

The Iceman - Movie Review


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4 stars

You know Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon’s face.  You just don’t know his name.  You will, though.  Mark my words.  You will.  Threatening enough for you?  Well, it just might be.  He plays, after all, a cold-blooded killer in Ariel Vroman’s The Iceman, a movie about the Garden State’s very own Richard Kuklinski.  Responsible for over 100 murders in New Jersey, Kuklinski is a force to be recognized.  The same can be said of Shannon’s mesmerizing performance.

Kuklinski (Shannon) was born to kill.  He’s good at it and – without pause – commits it willy-nilly like all the damn day long.  He slices necks, puts bullets in homeless men, sneezes in the face of his targets to spread toxic poison.  He freezes his bodies, then slices and dices them into unrecognizable shapes.  He is also a loving husband and father of two girls; his family has no idea of his real passions.  And, as the cops descend, you will be secretly pulling for him to, yes, get away with murder.  That’s how strong and how steely Shannon’s performance is.

Opening in New Jersey circa 1964, Kuklinski is on a date with a woman named Deborah (Winona Ryder).  He’s had his eye on her for quite a while but this – as awkward as it is – is their first date.  He tells her that he dubs Disney films.  She loosens up a bit and tells him he’s a horrible conversationalist.  He smiles.  He knows what he is.  She does not.  He will marry her and have two kids with her and she will still not know what he is.

Richard Kuklinski, who first killed a man at the age of 13, is The Iceman.  Vroman’s movie is his story.  Written by Vroman and Michael Land, The Iceman traces the evolution of one sociopath as his particular skillset is used and abused by a thug named Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta) and later the mafia, represented by here by Robert Davi.  In between the span of those 20 or so years, he works alongside a severely deranged ice cream truck driving Freezy (Chris Evans) and profits from his own kills.  Meanwhile, back in reality, his family thrives and unsuspicious of his midnight activities.  They love him and he loves them back.

But Richard Kuklinski is not normal and Shannon, moving like a panther through the film, turns in a haunting performance of a man of the edge of losing it all whether by blade, by cord, or by gun.  Kuklinski is a ticking time bomb and Shannon has his number.  His performance is bordering on a whole a new level of beauty.  It’s powerful, understated, and sizzling.  By the end of the picture, you’ll be rooting for Kuklinski to outgun the police.

There is nice retro vibe to the happenings in The Iceman.  From the middle 60s to the 1970s, the air of authenticity to much of the film is on equal footing as Shannon’s performance.  It was filmed in Detroit and looks as every bit broken up as the city currently is.  The look of the film matches the grit and grain of the film stock of the era.  Colors are perfectly saturated and everyone – including James Franco, David Schwimmer, and Stephen Dorff are hiding behind long hair, bushy moustaches, and schlumps, swaggers, and classic 70s cool.  That’s not to suggest that the film is self-aware of itself.  No, the proceedings in The Iceman are as organic as Kuklinski’s blood-soaked career.

Israeli-born Vroman proves that the dark sophistication of his previous films Danika and Rx was no joke.  He is capable of turning the everyday into pure horror and here, with Shannon as the hitman, he pummels the audience with a brutal sleekness that doesn’t overuse its ugly violence to express the horror of a man like Kuklinski.  He doesn’t provide all the facts, mind you.  He sidesteps the early kills and opens with the idea of Kuklinski as a family man. Is this a fault?  A stiletto, icepick, colt .45, and even a spray bottle filled with liquid cyanide all disagree with you.  Kuklinski is a killer.  You won’t forget it.  This is what makes the film so interesting.

The Iceman cometh and you should, too.  Blue-collar work has never been this dark and disturbed.

{2jtab: Film Details}

The Iceman - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for strong violence, pervasive language and some sexual content.
106 mins
: Ariel Vromen
Writer: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Cast: Michael Shannon; Winona Ryder, Chris Evans; Ray Liotta; David Schwimmer
Genre: Crime | Drama | Thriller
oving husband. Devoted father. Ruthless killer.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm good at what I do."
Millennium Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
May 3, 2013 (limited)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available

Synopsis: The true story of Richard Kuklinski, the notorious contract killer and family man. When finally arrested in 1986, neither his wife nor daughters have any clue about his real profession.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

No details available.

{2jtab: Trailer}