The Iceman is a movie that was released in 2012 as directed by Ariel Vroman. It is the story of infamous real life hitman / serial killer Richard Kuklinski. The movie stars Michael Shannon in the lead with Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, and David Schwimmer as just some of the supporting cast. Does this movie about a contract killer rise or die as entertainment?
It seems that a popular complaint about this movie involves the scope of material covered. Fans of mafia movies and real life crime in general may wish The Iceman got more details accurate or bits of the story explored. Ultimately, I saw the movie as being a character piece exploring the anger issues and failure to cope without murdering people psychological issues of a man who came from an abusive household. He grows up to try and be different in terms of being a family man, however, that dark and violent side is still there and he really lets it loose on the victims he is paid to kill. All of his “wet work” is not shown to be merely for financial gain, however, as he seems to kill some as if it is just second nature for him. An action movie it is not, not exactly, this is a brooding drama that lives and dies on the acting performance.
How was the acting? Michael Shannon is pitch perfect and fans of his work should definitely scoop up a copy of The Iceman. He does not go too over-the-top as he can in some roles. The rest of the cast is spot on as well, with David Schwimmer being a nice surprise, able to camouflage himself in a way that lets you forget all about Ross from the television show Friends. I think the acting of Michael Shannon is the main reason I enjoyed the movie, the plot and story mechanics just seem to be brushed over events that revolve around this aspect.
I enjoyed the way they handled the character of this killer. It is a movie, so if you are looking for the real answers as to who Richard Kuklinski was, don’t expect it. I think the exploration of the man’s dual nature as a family man and killer was very intriguing. They made sure not to make the character overly sympathetic. Sure, he has honor in caring for his wife and kids, but he also snaps on them a few times and even endangers them himself once his anger is in control. Instead of the Hollywood staple of a “save the cat” scene, where a lead character does something that does not involve the main plot, like save a cat to show they are the “good guy,” this movie has a kill the cat scene later on to drive home the point: we are not romanticizing this fellow.
The Iceman got the balance right in the drama department with the acting and character study being entertaining. The story is not exactly all that interesting as a stand-alone element, but once you whip all of the ingredients together you get a pretty good watch.
The Iceman takes you to the dark side of a villain and succeeds in showing his twisted humanity as well.