Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Iceman: Movie Review

The Iceman lives up to the name but falls a little short on the potential of the story.

“The Iceman” is Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) the mob hit-man who was responsible for 100 murders. It’s an interesting story and it’s a true one. The film knows that and uses all the facts to move the story note-by-note. That unfortunately makes the film slightly less interesting than it otherwise could be. The Iceman is so nicknamed because of his emotionless attitude to killing.   2012

Directed by: Ariel Vromen

Screenplay by: Morgan Land, Ariel Vroman

Starring: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder

What makes the Iceman so creepy is that he has built the life of a normal person. He got married, seemingly in love with a beautiful woman, had two daughters, goes to work during the day and comes home at night in the suburbs with a paycheck to afford a nice house, lawn and picket fence. His job just happens to be killing anybody his mob boss tells him to. He clearly must have psychological issues making him a sociopath such that he can just switch from contract killer to family man.

One would assume that Michael Shannon was hired because of his ability to portray mental anguish without bubbling over with rage as his characters struggle to understand his own reality. But Shannon wasn’t used to the full extent of his talent. He had the same emotionless expression throughout most of the film. The few scenes implying his severe sociopathic tendencies were too minor to make this much of a psychological character study. As a result, it’s really just a mob crime drama. I was hoping for the former, but the mass legions of fans of “Goodfellas” and the like will probably appreciate the latter.

On a positive note, Winona Ryder was quite impressive as the wife on the sidelines. She knew nothing about him, sometimes grew concerned, but ultimately she just wanted to love him and be loved by him. Also Chris Evans (the Hollywood actor who looks like he should be cast in films as the guy who saves the world and gets the girl) is unrecognizable here as a hippie mob hit-man who is also an ice cream salesman. Make sense of that however you want, but he was one of the best characters in the film.

Ray Liotta is the mob boss, David Schwimmer plays a 1970s porn star styled mob assistant type guy, and they lead directly to the Iceman. He used to dub porn films, but the mob needs him, and use him they do. What I wanted to see more of was how much Kuklinski needed the mob. He probably couldn’t function in regular society without such a violent and sadistic outlet.