Directed by Ariel Vromen
Based on the book The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer by Anthony Bruno
Also based on the documentary The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer by Jim Thebaut
Screenplay by Ariel Vromen and Morgan Land
Starring: Michael Shannon, James Franco, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder, David Schwimmer
Richard Kuklinski (Shannon) was a ruthless contract killer working for the mafia. He was also a family man who kept his work away from those he loved. His methods gave him the nickname “The Iceman”.
This 2012 film is based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, a prolific contract killer and family man. The was based on the book The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer as well as the documentary The Iceman: Conversations with a Killer. The book was penned by Anthony Bruno (Bad Apple), and the documentary was put together by Jim Thebaut (Running Dry). This screenplay was written by Morgan Land (Rx) and the movie’s director, Ariel Vroman (Danika). The star of this one is Michael Shannon (Man of Steel). He’s joined by James Franco (City by the Sea), Ray Liotta (Field of Dreams), Chris Evans (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Winona Ryder (Homefront), and David Schwimmer (Band of Brothers).
This movie is based on real events, and follows the life of Richard Kuklinski from his beginning as a contract killer. The violence is intense at times, but also used with moderation. The rest of the film focuses on his time with his family, and the outside events that were affecting his career. The story is pretty direct, with little surprise or twist throughout. The story unfortunately misses portraying some of the violent tendencies he exhibited at home. Overall, this is an interesting look at into the mind of a killer. Kuklinski gave a number of in-depth interviews throughout his incarceration, and much of the detail came from his recollections.
Unfortunately, this story might be interesting from a “true story” perspective, but it fails as a film. There is a clear lacking in the story for real opposition to Kuklinski. While this might be a nice way to stick to the facts, it makes for a pretty slow burn. The moments of action should be tied to something, but instead they feel almost arbitrary in their appearances. This isn’t a fatal flaw, but it does keep this from being a much better movie.
The acting in this movie is really good. Michael Shannon has done great work in films like Man of Steel and shows like Boardwalk Empire. This is a nice opportunity to see him leading the way. His cold delivery works perfectly in setting up Kuklinski’s cold-blooded nature. The rest of the cast does great work also. Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder, and James Franco all pull off their parts nicely. The surprise role of this film was the really convincing work from David Schwimmer. I’m not a big fan of Schwimmer’s work, but this role worked great for him.
The movie uses some great sets, costumes, and locations throughout. The camera work combines with these aspects to make a very nice movie from a visual standpoint. The use of light really helps to set the tone throughout the film. Overall, this movie is nicely done from every technical aspect. As a whole, this movie is underwhelming due to the flaws with the story. Still, I would recommend it to those who like Shannon, or any of the cast. I would also recommend this to fans of true crime films. This is a movie of graphic violence, so it’s not for everyone. I give this one 1.9 out of 5 stars.