Biopic of notorious mass killer Richard Kuklinski…
I remember reading about Kuklinski The Iceman years ago, when he was first prosecuted and all his many killings came to light. Then he made the famous The Iceman Tapes, which showed just how cool a customer the huge hitman really was, as he told his story on-camera in a matter-of-fact manner, which was more chilling than if he behaved like a rabid animal. At the closing of The Iceman, one of the better known scenes from The Iceman Tapes is recreated beautifully by Michael Shannon, where he tells of having no regrets for his actions, other than hurting his family, but never did care about all the other lives he ruined.
The story starts in New Jersey, April 29th 1964, when Deborah (Winona Ryder) and Richie go on a date. Not long after, they marry and have their first daughter. Richie is working in a small porn distributing operation, when he has a run in with mafia hood Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta), who soon after offers Richie a job. His interview involves killing a street guy, but as seen earlier, he’s no stranger to murder. Roy warns him he only works for him and no one else, and soon Richie is busy killing and making plenty money. During this period, his second daughter is born. Richie has had to lie to Deborrah over the years about what he does for a living, and she’s under the impression his job entails dealing with currency exchange, but he almost gets caught out in the lie during a dinner conversation with some friends at a restaurant.
Josh (David Schwimmer) has been sent on a cocaine deal by Roy, but instead of doing the deal, he murders the two Cuban dealers and makes off with the drugs and the cash. This gets Roy into trouble with the Gambino’s and the Cali cartel, and now he has to shut everything down for a while, which puts Richie out of work. He ends up getting angrier by the day and almost wrecks his house after an argument with his wife, but things are soon back to normal after he hooks up with another hitman Mr Freezy, who he knew from before. Mr Freezy (Chris Evans) is so called because he drives an ice cream truck and he freezes his victims for sometimes years, to confuse the police, and now together they also chop up the bodies in a macabre human abattoir. Richie is doing the hits and Freezy works out the details, making the pair a deadly team. Freezy teaches him how to use poisons too, which gets put to good use, but eventually his life of crime begins to encroach on his family life which he won’t stand for. Richard Kuklinski is believed to have killed at least 100 people during his career.
The acting was good but Shannon really played this to perfection, and clearly studied Kuklinski, because he had his mannerisms down solid, as demonstrated in the final scene. The Iceman works fairly well as a straight gangster movie, but even better as a character study of an outwardly calm man, with almost no feeling, who kills without the slightest remorse, and while we do see a flashback where he’s taking a bad beating by his parent, I doubt that’s what made him the way he was.