Sunday, July 8, 2018

Movie Review: "The Iceman" (2012)

Director: Ariel Vromen
Year: 2012
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

The true-life story of Richard Kuklinski, who led a dual life as both a loving husband/father and as one of the most cold-blooded mob hitmen alive.
"You wanna complain about life, you're talkin' to the wrong fuckin' guy." (Image Source)
Sure, Richard Kuklinski killed over 100 people, but he loved his wife and kids! He had to make a living somehow, right!? "The Iceman" is directed by Ariel Vromen, who is best known for directing the Kevin Costner-led sci-fi thriller "Criminal." Vromen also helped write the screenplay along with Morgan Land, who worked with Vronen previously on the film "Rx." The film is based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski and is adapted from both the book "The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer" by Anthony Bruno, and the documentary "The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With a Killer" directed by James Thebaut. It stars Michael Shannon as Kuklinski himself, nicknamed "Iceman." The film starts at the point where Richard meets his eventual wife Deborah (Winona Ryder). From the beginning of their relationship, he never tells her the truth about how he makes a living, whether it be dubbing porno flicks or killing people for the mob. Deborah enjoys the lavish lifestyle his job affords for their family. Richard enjoys assassinating people. It's a win-win for both of them. In public, he is a loving father, husband, and attentive family man, and then behind closed doors, he's a sociopathic, remorseless murderer.
"This is one big fucking mess we don't need. Clean it up." (Image Source)
If there were ever an actor that you could look at them and say to yourself, "yes, I believe that this individual could kill someone," Michael Shannon is certainly it. Don't get us wrong, we're sure Shannon is a lovely, kind, humorous person in reality. That being said, if you asked us what a murderer looked like, we'd probably imagine someone like Michael Shannon. When a studio needs to find an actor to play a notorious hitman like Richard Kuklinski, who better to play him Zod?
"If you follow orders, you've got everything to gain." (Image Source)
It's a wonder why the public at large is so enamored with people like Richard Kuklinski. He isn't the kind of person who deserves notoriety. He contributed nothing of value to society and only made the world he lived in worse. Still, we are fascinated by the psychology of such people and how they can be the way they are. "The Iceman" tries to explore the dual nature of people, how one man could keep his murderous way a secret from his family for so long. The film depicts Kuklinski as a devoted family man, which in reality was only half correct. He was sometimes caring, but other times, he was abusive and violent towards them, much like he was with his victims. This point is mostly glossed over in the film apart from a few shouting matches with his wife.
"I'm not where I am by doing what's right." (Image Source)
Fact versus Hollywood fiction aside, "The Iceman" tells an engaging story. We remained enthralled with Kuklinski as a character despite that he does awful things. We figure the fudging of facts is done to give Kuklinski some redeeming qualities, otherwise he would be a one-dimensional character, which doesn't exactly make for good storytelling. In the end, we wound up enjoying this film. It is as successful as it is solely because of the brilliance of Michael Shannon. Don't get us wrong, Chris Evans, Winona Ryder, and Ray Liotta are also great here, but they can't hold a candle to their leader. This is most certainly worth checking out.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
RT Rating: 67%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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