“The Iceman” has the look and feel of a great gangster film but it is elevated by a powerful performance by Michael Shannon as the title character. Is there any other actor today who can look you in the eyes with a blank stare that sends chills down your spine. It must be in his eyes. They always seem to be concealing dark rage and violence that could explode at any time. His character here is a real life person who was a contract killer with no emotion. His family had no idea about his true profession until he was eventually tracked down by the authorities.
Shannon plays Richard Kuklinski, who was known as the Iceman. He is employed by Roy Demeo, played by Ray Liotta. Demeo can’t believe how emotionally dethatched Richard is so he has him prove himself by murdering a homeless man right outside of his car. It is almost frightening. Later he is paired with another insane killer played by Captain America himself, Chris Evans.
Wynona Ryder plays his wife who over the years begins to sense that something is wrong when his bottled up rage begins to spill over in to their family life. There is a terrifying scene where Kuklinski is told off by a fellow motorist and he frightens his family by chasing the man down with his car as they scream in the back seat. Lucky for that motorist that he didn’t catch up to him.
The director is Ariel Vromen, who shows that he is a student of films by Scorsese and Coppolla. He seems fascinated by this world that exists outside of our own. The best scenes are when Kuklinski’s family life almost cross paths with his career as a killer. There is a tense moment when a hit squad shows up at his daughter’s 16th birthday party and he has to talk them in to basically dealing with him later.
The broad strokes of this movie are very familiar but like I said it is elevated by some awesome performances. Shannon in particular continues to give us performances that are unlike nothing we have seen before. All that will change this summer with the release of “Man Of Steel”.