The Iceman tells the true story of Richard Kuklinski. He is the ruthless Mafia hitman who killed at least one hundred people and possibly as many as two hundred and fifty. In fact, he proved to be one of the coldest killers ever in history, resulting in him receiving the name ‘The Iceman'. But he was also known as The Devil himself.
He was famous for deep-freezing the bodies of his victims. Which, once chopped up and dumped in various places made it very difficult to identify the person and work out the time of the killing. But, by far the strangest thing about him, is that he was a deeply devoted, loving family man. Remarkably he managed to keep his double life a secret from his family right up until he was arrested in 1986.
It appears, that even at a young age Kuklinski had a taste for violence and killing. By his own admission, he would repeatedly commit acts of extreme cruelty on neighborhood pets. On top of this, his first murder took place in 1949 at the age of thirteen. However, it's when an associate of the Gambino family, Roy DeMeo, employs him in the 1960s that, Richard Kuklinski the brutal Polish/American took up killing as a profession and earned his name.
For me, The Iceman was the first film that I had seen from the Director and Producer Ariel Vromen. And it's fair to say that he does an amazing job here. Vromen chose to make the film after seeing the documentary, The Iceman Tapes. Vromen's direction is targeted squarely on the lead character which is what makes it stand out from all of the other Mafia crime drama's made. Yes, it does have a feel of the likes of Goodfellas, but the intense focus is all on Kuklinski. And Vromen let's all of the other spiraling drama comfortably fade into the background.
Now, there have been heaps of character-focused crime drama's made that have failed due to casting a weak lead. But not with The Iceman. I have to say that I am a fan of Michael Shannon, so maybe a little biased here. Yes, you guessed it, Michael Shannon is cast as Richard Kuklinski. And you know what, he is incredible, stealing every scene throughout and displaying a large fearful presence. If you have never seen him before, you must watch this and I can't believe that he did not come away with numerous awards for this performance.
That's not to say that the rest of the cast is terrible. Because they are not, in fact, all of the supporting roles are played brilliantly and the cast list is very impressive. I mean, how does Ray Liotta, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, James Franco, and Stephen Dorf Sound? I know, not too shabby hey. Ray Liotta is fantastic as Roy DeMeo. It's great to see Winona Ryder back at her best, cast as Deborah Kuklinski. However, the big surprise comes from Chris Evans who gives an outstanding performance playing Robert Pronge (Mr Freezy). I would say that there are no weak links in the casting at all. Even David Schwimmer pulls off an unexpectedly great performance in The Iceman.
It's fair to say, that The Iceman should come with a warning. It is wholly focused on the brutal murderous actions of one of the most disturbing human beings that has ever walked this Earth. So, be warned. But, as far as I am concerned, The Iceman is one of the finest films I have ever seen. Superb acting, great direction and just a powerful piece of cinema. Highly recommended.