The fall air is coming down the pike pretty fast these days, thankfully so is some quality home entertainment watching as well. "The Iceman" is a chilling real life story of a man who was an idyllic and caring family but also a ruthless mob assassin.
The Iceman follows real-life hit man Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) from his early days in the mob until his arrest in 1986. Appearing to be living the American dream with his beautiful wife, Deborah Pellicotti (Winona Ryder) and their children, in reality he is a killer-for-hire, who is able to keep his job” hidden from his family. When he is finally arrested by the feds in 1986, neither his wife and daughters nor their neighbors have any clue that he is a murderer. Why did he do it and how did he get away with it for so long?
Officially some solid counter programming, against the blockbuster behemoths of the planet that are seemingly released almost every week, "The Iceman" is an efficient yet somewhat underwhelming bio picture. Perhaps the underwhelming nature of it all is the point though, writer/director Ariel Vroman sets the stage and lets the story unfold in a rather, calm, as a matter of fact type manor. A well shot film that moves us through the life of Kuklinski with relative ease despite some minor non-sensical time jumps, we get a solid story that keeps both sides of this man's life fairly separate, to the point that we just don't get a lot of legitimate tension build up when his world's start to collide, because much like "The Iceman" himself, Vroman plays it a little too cool at times and the cracks in our protagonists armor truly only start to come to light by the very end of the film. While the storytelling and filmmaking was solid yet underwhelming, it is in the performances where the real magic happened elevating this film up from the middle of the road fair.
Michael Shannon is one of those rare actors who we as an audience we pay to hear him read the phone book and it would be compelling, and here is Richard Kuklinski he does not disappoint. Bringing such a compassionless demeanour to the role of "The Iceman" was really fascinating as he didn't have to bring any large histrionics to the role, just kept it on a dead serious even keel of man who didn't have to raise his voice when he talked to you, because you would listen as he stared not at you, but through you. Another wonderful turn from Shannon who is easily one of the planets best working actors today. Winona Ryder was quite solid as his wife, playing it is as sweet and clueless as possible truly representing all the good parts of the man that was Richard Kuklinski. Playing against type as Mr. Freezy, Chris Evans brought a fun, manic energy to the role and played off of Shannon's calm demeanour to a tee. Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Robert Davi and Stephen Dorff round out the ensemble well enough making for a quality on screen ensemble performance.
While "The Iceman" won't dazzle you, it is a solid piece of filmmaking that is more than worth a look.
3 out of 5 stars.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are first rate and the special features on the Blu-Ray include a Making of "The Iceman" as well as a behind the scenes look.