The Iceman Review

The Iceman

So, The Iceman cometh, and he’s bloody scary too.

It’s just a shame the rest of this film feels more like a seventies version of Grand Theft Auto than a bona fide gangster flick.

As is de rigueur for any modern film these days, we begin at the end as we watch an unrepentant and sinister man sitting in the shadows of a prison cell.

Rewind some thirty years prior and we’re watching the same man, noticeably younger of course, sat down with a pretty young thing who looks more than a tad nervous.

The man, Richard Kuklinski, has the physique of a beast, yet he seems little more than a stereotypical gentle giant in the gaze of his soon to be love.

Little is said, but what is confirms the chemistry between these two.

Now Kuklinski doesn’t seem like the angry type, even though he’s clearly got potential, so he makes a less than decent living by splicing together skin flicks that make an illegal killing.

But this iceman has his buttons too, much like anyone else, and when someone pushes them, his calm exterior thaws and Kuklinski’s inner beast is let off the leash.

So when some mobster drops in on his out of hour’s porn operation, and takes a shine to our antihero’s ice cool temperament under duress, Kuklinski spies a way to make a new killing, as well as a better life for himself and his wife to be.

But is it worth the price he’ll have to pay?

Another of those films branded with that “based on a true story” tagline, The Iceman is a curious one.

Michael Shannon, the man who would be Zod later in the month, is terrific as Richard Kuklinski; a hulking giant of a man with ice in his veins and a hunger to be a success at whatever cost.

There’s no way of telling just how Man Of Steel will turn out to be later this month, but I’d put good money on Shannon’s Zod being the best thing about this.

Ever since watching Take Shelter a couple of years back, I’ve been taken by the intensity and adaptability Shannon brings to the very different roles he chooses.

As good as he is though, and the boy’s ever changing facial hair is simply phenomenal throughout, The Iceman feels a little confused to me.

The very recognisable ensemble cast are fun to watch, from Ray Liotta in his now obligatory mobster role, James Franco in the most fleeting of stoner boys he’ll ever play to David Schwimmer’s bizarre homage to David Seaman, replete with the former england goalkeeper’s god awful moustache and ponytail combo.

Winona Ryder continues her rehabilitation from kleptomaniac to a respectable hollywood character actress as Kuklinski’s wife Deborah, and Chris Evans has the weirdest cameo of all as a fellow hitman called Mr Freezy, a guy who drives around in an ice cream truck blowing stuff up and capping people.

So you’ll forgive me for thinking this colourful collection of characters feel like they’ve fallen straight out of a GTA spinoff, with the only missing ingredient being some annoying coke fiend called Vance jabbering on about his god damn dance.

And even if these larger than life characters were true to real life people, it just takes you out of the mafia reality director Ariel Vromen has tried to create.

The Iceman is pretty cool, especially for fans of Michael Shannon’s meteoric rise as an actor you can build a film around.

But other than this, there’s not too much to pick out of this run of the mill gangster flick.

Jonathan Campbell

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June 2013
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