The Iceman Review
Let it be known that I am a huge Michael Shannon fan. I think he's proven over the years to be a very capable actor. I think he's has great range, I think he tries something different with each film, he's got mad skills when it comes to any genre. In "The Iceman," he plays Richard Kuklinski, a criminal who was a contract killer for the mob. During Kuklinski's career, which lasted between the mid-1950's and ended in 1986, he killed 100 people. In 2006, Kuklinski died in prison while getting ready to testify against another New York mobster.
"The Iceman" is an example of a film that is driven by its performances. The film anchors on Shannon's performance, which is unbelievable. The cold gaze of Shannon's Kuklinski is enough to give anybody nightmares. But Kuklinski lead a duel-life, and his entire career, his family never knew what he truly did as a profession. The film begins with a first date between Kuklinski and Deborah (Winona Ryder), their cute flirtations are handled very well. In fact, Ryder does fabulous work throughout the entire movie. She gives a typical character real depth, which isn't bad from an actress I don't normally like. The actor to really look out for though is Chris Evans, a guy whose been impressing me since 2011 when he put on the Captain America costume. He's completely unrecognizable as Mr. Freezy, another contract killer, so unrecognizable to the point that I didn't know it was him until half-way through. Ray Liotta is fine as Ray DeMeo, the mobster who initially recruits Kuklinski, but this is the same character we see Liotta play at least three times a year. He can do this in his sleep.
The film works as a big walk-through of Richard Kuklinski's life, highlighting many of the major chapters of his career. As much as the film is enjoyable, I feel it would have been stronger overall had it focused on a particular moment in Kuklinski's life or one particular job of is. Usually, the best biographical films showcase one moment that defined the person in question. I think that is why last years "Lincoln" made such an impression on me. It focused on one particular changing moment in the former presidents career, instead of quickly running through each and every memorable moment. It doesn't kill the movie for me, but I just really don't know what to feel about the film as a whole.
No matter what I say, Shannon is the man to look for. Sometimes a movie can pretty good to really good solely based on a performance. I think "The Iceman" is another example of that. On the surface level, "The Iceman" is just another mob movie, but with Michael Shannon front and center, it becomes something more.
FINAL GRADE: B