If you’re looking for the next Goodfellas with The Iceman, then this film will disappoint you. While you do get stellar performances out of the talent, the movie’s timeline and character focus is so imbalanced that it’s difficult to really pay attention to the film.
- Director: Ariel Vromen
- Writer(s): Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
- Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans, David Schwimmer, James Franco, Robert Davi
- Cinematography By: Bobby Bukowski
- Music By: Haim Mazar
Richard Kuklinski (Shannon) may appear to be your average family man, but he also leads a separate life as a hitman for the mob. Life gets even more complicated for Kuklinski as he gets tangled up with another hitman (Evans) that jeopardizes his ongoing relationship with the mafia. The struggle to hide his life as a killer from his family becomes even more difficult once it threatens to clash with the one thing he wants to protect the most.
- Michael Shannon/The Rest Of The Cast: Surprise surprise, Michael Shannon does another fantastic job in his latest movie. Richard Kuklinski was a rather reserved man who loved his family very much but still held onto this bubbling anger that he let out as he continued his job as a hired killer. Shannon was able to tone himself down a bit, maintaining this seething anger within Kuklinski while showing love to all of his closest friends and family around him. He’s not the kind of person who can snap at any moment, but if you threaten his loved ones he won’t hesitant to shoot you down in order to save them. Shannon has so much going on in each scene, through his posture and heavy stares that he in his own way becomes Kuklinski. And let’s not forget the rest of the cast, particularly Chris Evans as the clever but deadly Mr. Freezy. The actor steps out of his good guy comfort zone and takes on the role of the hitman who brings in Kuklinski, who’s desperate to earn money to keep his family happy. The character is a loner, an absolute bastard but still incredible at what he does and Evans does a great job doing that character justice. And personally I’m glad that his character forced Evans to have a little bit of a physical transformation, that way people don’t automatically look at him and think hey, it’s that guy who played Captain America.
- Overall Tone: When you’re dealing with a film that centers in a particular decade, especially in a crime movie like The Iceman, you always have to adjust your production design and overall look to said decade. The production design crew and costume designers did a wonderful job keeping the decades in line through the wardrobe and overall look of the movie.
- Vromen Behind The Camera: You can tell that this has been director Ariel Vromen’s passion project for awhile now. Every shot seems so planned out in advance, but at times The Iceman kind of looks like a TV movie. We still get the general feel of what Vromen was trying to go for behind the camera, it’s just that there are some scenes where it feels a little too planned out, a little too stiff and low budget. He still does a fine job being able to put together this film that took him years to get off the ground, but that general TV movie feel never really shakes off the film.
- No Balance Whatsoever: One of the main things that makes a mafia movie based off a true story work is how they map out the timeline. You have their origin, where he/she begins associating themselves with the mafia, their gradual rise and inevitable downfall. The beginning and ending to The Iceman work out perfectly, but it’s all of that mid-section that’s horribly unbalanced. The character Kuklinski is a hitman and yes, we do understand that he works for the mafia, but at times the story is pulled away from him and focuses on Demeo (Liotta) and his problems with the mafia. Now it’s understandable, he was the boss to Kuklinski and we do need to know a bit about him, but during certain points it doesn’t feel like the movie isn’t entirely about Kuklinski, which is frustrating.
- The Iceman: Richard Kuklinski was one of the most menacing hitmen of his time, but you never would have really guessed that when it comes to The Iceman. Michael Shannon does a fine job playing the hitman Kuklinski, as previously mentioned, but the story is so focused on showing how much of a family many he was that they kind of forget to actually show us what a terror he was away from his home. He murdered roughly around 200 people, and all we saw was a very brief montage of him killing a couple of people, including James Franco’s character. Now I’m not saying I wanted to see Kuklinski in action murdering more folk in this movie, but the film puts up such a stink that he was an honest to God good guy that it kind of forgets at times that he was a stone cold killer. Okay so they want us to have a little bit of sympathy for the family man, but this was a real guy whose life wasn’t all roses.
The Iceman could have been a spectacular movie if they had just rearranged the time line and expanded the story just a little bit more. At least they were able to make a decent film based off the life of the terrifying hitman.
The Iceman is out in limited theaters now.