<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Ariel Vromen. Starring Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Chris Evans, David Schwimmer, John Ventimiglia, Stephen Dorff, James Franco, Robert Davi
After not knowing anything about this film before I saw it and then finding out it was critically acclaimed (not so much) I can safely say I was happier when I knew nothing about The Iceman.
General Zod is back: Man Of Steel’s Michael Shannon plays a villain yet again and it looks like he’ll soon take over Ray Liotta’s regular duties of scuzzy underworld villain/thug. And we talk about stereotyping in Bollywood!
‘Inspired’ by a true story of a New Jersey-based contract killer who was caught after over 30 years and over 100 murders, The Iceman tries to show us a ruthless, unfeeling, heartless psychopath. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come off looking like anything different from their regular period, gangster movies.
Richard Kuklinski is a Polish man with a sort of double life. On one hand he’s the caring and affectionate husband and father who makes animated films and on the other he’s the one time porn film editor who turns hit man for gang boss Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta). Richard’s apparent unflinching mean streak is perfect since he rarely displays any emotion or doubt when bumping off his targets.
His pretty wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and their two daughters are blissfully unaware of Richard’s double life. How he manages to dupe them over three decades is never really explained. They only get an inkling of his violent temper, which quickly reverts to love and affection until of course the police finally find him out. But details of how, what, where are never explained.
We’re also supposed to get an idea of this cold-blooded killer. And while Michael Shannon provides us with a wonderful performance, there’s never quite any motive or depth to his madness. A random flashback to his father beating up his younger brother seems to proffer a feeble explanation for his violence but is never convincing.
I must say that I totally lost the plot halfway through The Iceman. I can’t actually tell you the story or the plot apart from some random killings of random characters. To be honest, I lost interest.
You will get to see FRIENDS star David Schwimmer in a different sort of role but his ‘Ross’ eyes will make you chuckle a bit inspite of his drug dealer demeanour. Chris Evans (Captain America, Fantastic 4) plays another criminal called Mr Freezy and at first he’s unrecognisable with long hair and a beard. Of course they remedy that by the end when it’s all shaven off. James Franco has a cameo and is part of one of the few memorable scenes in the film.
The Iceman is great for Shannon’s performance but otherwise it never tells the story it’s supposed to tell and never gives you an idea of how this man got away with killing over 100 people over three decades without him ever getting caught (or shot by another gangster) or having a feeling remorse or a need for a change of profession!