What’s It About? Based on the true-life account of New York Mafia killer Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) and his life of crime. Kuklinski is a small-time producer of porn films, though he tells his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) that he works for Disney, but one day he has a chance encounter with local mob boss Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) who hires him as an enforcer. Soon he becomes the go-to guy for dispatching contracts, but as he becomes more and more ruthless his home life begins to fall apart.
Verdict: Being based on a true story can sometimes be a problem for films that want to take artistic licence, and even if The Iceman did exaggerate a bit, we’re more than happy to accept it when it’s made as well as this film. The Iceman is very reminiscent of Goodfellas and Casino, so fans of those films will fit straight into the groove playing out here. The film even has that distinct look that most gritty mob films produce to show how their lives were impacted by the rise in their fortunes.
Michael Shannon shows why he’s so revered in Hollywood at present, as he moulds Kuklinski into a snarling, devilish menace with massive psycho tendencies and an ability to move from kind, loving family man to cold-hearted beast at a moment’s notice. It’s nice to see Winona Ryder finally get a meaty role of late. Her take on the mob wife is not unique but she makes it her own at every available turn. Liotta chews the scenery as he always does in such gangster films, he’s an old hand at what’s needed. The time frame may be rushed slightly, if only to accommodate all of Kuklinski’s modus operandi moments, yet it’s forgiven when a story as big and long as this needs the air to breathe and sink its meaty mitts into the viewer.
Extras: An eight-minute behind the scenes feature and also interviews with the main cast and crew. Nothing too special and sadly lacking anything about the real Kuklinski.
Final Words: The crime field is littered with true-life accounts, but The Iceman is one of the best. It leaves nothing behind and shows it all on screen. Shannon is wonderfully reserved as Kuklinski, but when he lets rip it’s a terrifying sight. It’s a testament to the filmmaker that, at times, we feel sorry for the killer even though we know it’s completely wrong. A crime film that deserves to be a consigliere.
The Iceman is available on DVD & Blu-ray from 30 September 2013.