Starring: Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer
Directed by: Ariel Vromen
Written By: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 45 min
The story of mass murderer Richard Kuklinski is an interesting one, and makes for some eye-opening reading over on Wikipedia. It’s a shame then the movie about him focuses more on the what and when of his life, and less on how he became the killer he was. So this film feels like a wasted opportunity. Michael Shannon is absolutely superb as Kuklinski, and if only he’d been given a more ambitious script to work with, The Iceman would have been something really special.
The main strength of this film is the casting. Winona Ryder is excellent as Kuklinski’s wife, Deborah, and Chris Evans is almost unrecognizable as fellow contract killer Mr Freezy. The casting of David Schwimmer turns out to be a welcome surprise, and Ray Liotta certainly seemed comfortable playing the gangster Roy Demeo. James Franco’s appearance however felt more like a distracting cameo rather than a character important to the story. The movie would have been better served with someone less recognizable in that role.
This is an interesting true life crime drama, and not too violent. If you’re already a fan of Michael Shannon’s work you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s a solid film, but if you’re looking for a serial killer character study look to films like Sling Blade or American Psycho. This is more in tune with movies like American Gangster or Goodfellas – though not nearly as good.
It’s decently shot so a HD viewing is recommended. A streaming or regular dvd will work too.
Best moment for me: << spoiler! >>
Funnily enough, despite how I felt about James Franco’s role as Marty Freeman in this film. He is present during one of the best scenes in the movie. Kuklinski is about to kill Marty Freeman. Marty starts begging for his life, and throws out a plea to God for help. Kuklinski then allows Marty the opportunity to ask God for salvation, and sits calmly as he waits for a divine intervention to occur. It’s one of only a few scenes that connect to Kuklinski’s past, and I just wish more of the movie focused on that and not plod through his actions as a mafia contract killer.
Jon’s Two Pence:
Perfectly well made but I couldn’t help feeling it was a pale “Goodfellas” – having Ray Liotta in it didn’t help. I know it was a true story and is solidly acted but it doesn’t really zip along. It is good at casting a feeling of dread over all the proceedings however, and the period setting is well realized. I agree about the notable actors and the big cameo, but it ultimately left me not understanding the man at all.