Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5
Based on true events, The Iceman explores the life of infamous contract killer Richard Kuklinski. The film spans from his time as small time pornography dubber to mob hit-man. To his family he is in the currency exchange business seemingly living a normal life but once too many kills gain the interest of the media he is inevitably arrested for over 100 murders.
The Iceman is intensely dark and gritty with the help of a powerful performance by Michael Shannon who independently makes this a must watch. There’s great performances everywhere within this film as we’re given a star cast to indulge in. Winona Ryder (haaaawt) is solid as Kuklinski’s wife, a crucial character within the hit-man’s world as she is the basis of the only human emotion Kuklinski feels. Ray Liotta is mob boss Roy Dameo, feeling quite at home having countless gangster experience on the screen. Chris Evans is perfect as Kuklinkski’s accomplice, he’s deeply dark but slick as he has no problem with what he does. Nice seeing Evans out of the Marvel universe and getting into these scary roles. Probably one of the most surprising performances comes from former Friends star David Schwimmer. Throughout the film I kept thinking I recognized his face but couldn’t put a name to it. Hidden behind a distasteful hair do and mustache he plays Dameo’s right hand man Josh Rosenthal. He’s like a son to Dameo but sloppy antics and a lack of integrity leave the mob boss a hard decision to make.
Stealing the show is of course Michael Shannon who puts it all on the screen. He’s dark, gritty and slightly misunderstood. I felt he played the character terrifyingly well and it could possibly be one of the best performances of the year. He gave Kaklinski a humanistic side as opposed to the emotionless person we see at the start. He’s molded by his disturbing childhood which gives him this ignition of anger whenever he is provoked. The difference between his jailed brother and him is that he has the ability to control it when necessary. Despite his ability to kill with no remorse he has a strong moral code of not harming women or children which doesn’t necessarily put him in the category of serial killer as he does feel something towards people. Having a violent childhood makes him somewhat cynical towards god, shown through a scene where he gives a man time to pray before he is killed, mocking the idea that god could possibly come down and stop him.
Despite a great performance by Shannon, it felt like the script was lacking character depth. We’re given a character that is compelling, he kills because he’s good at it and feels very little for the people he kills. But he cares dearly for his family just like anyone else. There’s no in depth exploration of who the Iceman really is. We are given small nit-picks of his personality and values, and it can be interpreted differently depending on how you see him. It just felt like an opportunity missed for a brilliant character piece. Ultimately it’s more of a gangster thriller than a thorough look into the Iceman.
The cinematography fit’s perfectly with the intended tone of the film, it’s dark, colourless and stylish. The combination of cinematography and music makes most of the film intense and relentless.
A scene that I love the most is when Kaklinski continuously bangs his head against an elevator wall while repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”, it show’s how little that means in the gangster business but also gives him a vulnerability that we don’t see for the first half of the film.