The Iceman (2012)

[opening line] : "Mister Kuklinski, do you have any regrets for the things you've done?"
By Ariel Vromen
With Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder and Ray Liotta

I was excited to see The Iceman. First of all, I like to watch movies about the real serial killers because there is this added element of reality and it can really show the human nature despite the monstrous acts. Sadly, most of the movies about real serial killers--and I've seen quite a few--it is with regret that I have to say most of them are not really good, but on the other hand, The Iceman had a great cast and I really enjoy Michael Shannon so I was excited. Lastly, the band Macabre has a song about Richard Kuklinski and it was one of the first I heard when I got to know them, therefore I was even more excited.

The movie starts with Richard and Deborah's first date where he doesn't seem really comfortable talking much but when asked about his profession he says he dubs cartoons. Here starts the big lie about Richie's professional life as he is in fact a voice actor for pornographic movies. After their date, Richard meets with some friends and this other guy makes unpleasant remarks about Deborah and refuses to pay Richard for his pool win. Richard then coldly kills him in his car and walks away. The "porn lab" which was held by the mafia closes but seeing Richard's cold determination, the big shot Roy offers him a job as he doesn't flinch when asked to kill an innocent homeless man. Few years forward and Deborah and Richard are married with daughters. His family is absolutely clueless to Richard's real source of money income but when it starts running short, Richard must find a way to sustain his family...

The movie was well done and I have to say I really felt the 70's was nice with all the mustaches galore. I think a good tagline from the movie could actually come from the lyrics to The Iceman song by Macabre which goes as such: "There's a very big man who lived a double life / as a dedicated family man and cold blooded hitman / husband with children / but on the streets he was The Iceman". It might not be as much a movie about a serial killer than it is a gangster movie. It is also the struggle of man, not only with his way of solving conflicts through killing, but also to separate his "work" from his family life. I think that is one of the biggest themes of the movie and it works out well.

It might be a little puzzling at first to see how little his life is impeded by police investigations as the film covers almost 20 years with what seems continuous hits and he is never threatened. Also, I wasn't sure what to make of the role of the brother, Joey, who Richard visits in prison. Of course, in a way it seemed to try to show us the depth and root of evil which lay in both the brothers, which is something I found to be always over emphasized in movies, however this appears to be factually accurate in this case, so I guess it was simply stating facts.

Michael Shannon is perfect in the role, even though I think the actual Iceman was a lot heavier. He is really good in these roles and has proven it time and time again, some will say to the point where he is typecast every time, but it works. Other actors all do a great job, with Winona Ryder who hasn't been seen that much lately and also David Schwimmer whose look and haircut should at least make you giggle.

The film doesn't take many risks and to me felt like a peaceful ride through a cruel and brutal reality. The story is not exceptional but it is odd enough to make it one of those good "based on a true story" films. It offers no excuses and no judgments which I think was a good choice but some might disagree.

I liked: Kuklinski's ice cold gaze. Dilemma of what a family knows. Period film, New-York in the 70's.

I disliked: Not really satisfying. We really don't know what the big deal with the mob and we are propelled in it.

It's clearly an enjoyable watch, especially if you like cold characters with an internal struggle... or gangster movies!


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