The Iceman is based on the true story of a psychopath who led a double life. On the one hand, he killed people for a living for the mob. On the other hand, he had a wife and two daughters that he doted on who knew absolutely nothing about what Daddy did for a living. And he pulled it off perfectly for a couple of decades, killing well over 100 people. Michael Shannon plays Richard Kuklinski the man who came to be known as The Iceman. The nickname was based on two things: he froze many of his victims to disguise the time of death, and he was usually totally emotionless.
In The Iceman, Kuklinski starts out working in a porn production house, though he tells the woman he is wooing, Deborah (Winona Ryder), that he dubs films for Disney. She is taken with him and they eventually marry. And he leaves the film biz for better employment with the mob, telling Deb he’s working in the currency exchange. Soon he and wifey have a kid and a house in the New Jersey suburbs, and he is the go-to guy for “icing” anyone that the boss (Ray Liotta) is displeased with. The film follows this basic story through a couple of decades, though Kuklinski branches out and becomes a regular gun/poison/bludgeon for hire. Then eventually he makes a mistake and gets caught.
Michael Shannon is perfect at the ice-cold killer/caring dad. There are a few scenes revealing his horrid childhood that I guess are supposed to explain his lack of empathy. But the big problem with the film is that it doesn’t build. It is more a clip show of the murders, with a few cameos along the way (James Franco, David Schwimmer, Stephen Dorff). The mob stuff is kind of Goodfellas lite. And the eventual fall does not mean anything. There is no one to root for. I’d say go if you are a huge mob flick fan, or even a Michael Shannon fan. But otherwise, wait for it online or on a plane.