I wanted to see ‘The Iceman‘ ever since seeing the trailer and I wasn’t disappointed. Most films about serial killers make them out to be only cold and heartless but in this film the killer has a heart and you do start to sympathize with him a little bit. The film is based on a true story and not the usual type of story you see in films about the Mob. It doesn’t glamorize organized crime or serial killers which is a good thing.
Michael Shannon gave a great performance as a vulnerable serial killer who is also a contract killer for the mob. He is believable as Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer who is able to compartmentalize his family life from his work. His wife and children have no idea what he really does for a living. It was also a neat twist that Kuklinski was a serial killer – he enjoyed his job and wanted to do it all the time. He also makes it fun for himself by killing people in a different manner each time. He does have some morals such as refusing to kill women and children. I thought this part was better than General Zod in Man of Steel.
Ray Liotta plays mob boss Roy Demeo, who gives Kuklinski his start as a contract killer. It wasn’t much of stretch for Liotta which was a shame. I thought maybe the director was going for familiar but it turned into a cliche. The same could be said for Robert Davi playing a higher level Mob guy Leonard Marks. It might have been better to cast someone who doesn’t look like a mob guy or hasn’t played bad guys in other movies.
Winona Ryder plays Kuklinski’s unaware wife. She always does good when a character is younger but she never seems to get the older part of a character. Early in the movie she is great but later as the time moves into the 70s and 80s I just didn’t buy that she had aged. It wasn’t all her fault, I just don’t think the makeup did her any favors as an older Deborah Pellicotti.
Two actors who actually fooled me because of their makeup job and acting was Chris Evans as Mr. Freezy and David Schwimmer as Josh Rosenthal. Evans was unrecognizable as the greasy haired chain smoking ice cream man/contract killer. Schwimmer’s transformation wasn’t as dramatic but the ponytail and track suit fooled me up until his final scene.
The film is set in the 60s to the 80s and I thought they got the setting right for the time periods. The brightly colored furniture in one apartment scene set in 1976 made me chuckle.
Although the film is violent with people being murdered, it wasn’t as graphic or as gruesome as a Scorsese film. The film’s focus was on the man, Richard Kuklinski, and not on the murders. Most of the killings are done with a shot of the killer, a sound of the gun, and then a quick cut to the victim either dead or dying. I appreciate the director pulling back on the details.
One area of the story the film doesn’t get into that is really a missing piece of the story is why Kuklinski was able to kill for so long before he got caught. They mention it when Mr. Freezy talks about holding the bodies in a freezer for several months before dumping them and another scene shows the men chopping up bodies they intend on dumping. I just wish they would’ve explained the process more.
Except for those small quibbles I enjoyed the movie and is one of the best this year.