The Iceman

Michael Shannon Ray Liotta

I didn't know much about The Iceman going in to it, except that it's based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer, whose wife and daughter didn't know his true profession until he was arrested in 1986. However, fantastic acting performances make this a great movie that is definitely worth seeing.

Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) works as a dubber for porn movies, although when he meets his girlfriend, Deborah (Winona Ryder), who will later be his wife and the mother of his two daughters, he tells her he's a dubber for Disney cartoons. When the porn shop gets invaded by gangster Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta), Roy tells Richard that if he wants to, he can work for him as a contract killer. Earlier in the movie, Richard killed someone he was unhappy with, just because the guy made him angry, so we know that even though he appears to be mild-mannered, he's definitely got a dark side; the money is good, too, so Richard accepts the job. When he leaves a teenage girl at a crime scene as a witness, Roy gets angry with Richard and tells him he's retired, and can't work for any other gangsters too; Richard eventually disobeys Roy and starts partnering with Mr. Freezy (Chris Evans), who owns an ice cream cart where he also stores the bodies he's killed and frozen. Richard's family is never the wiser to all of this, but then a series of unlucky events happen, and things starts to go downhill for Richard.

First of all, Michael Shannon was fantastic in this film. I've seen him in smaller roles, like an uncle in Mud recently, but this movie really showcases his acting talents. Ray Liotta was also very good in his role, although it seems like he always plays gangsters, and I almost didn't recognize Chris Evans, with long, stringy hair, playing another contract killer. David Schwimmer has a small part in the movie, too, as one of Liotta's character's best friends, but even with the '70s "porn 'stache" and ponytail, I couldn't take him seriously in the role, since I will always see him as Ross from Friends. James Franco has a one-scene part as someone Shannon's character kills, also, and Winona Ryder plays Shannon's wife in the movie; I'm not really a big fan of hers, but she does okay in the role.

Yes, see this film. Be aware that it definitely has earned its "R" rating, which may be obvious since it's about killings for hire ... there were a couple of particularly gory scenes, though, including a few throat-slashings and the part when "Mr. Freezy" shows Richard where he keeps his victims. Richard actually earns the nickname "The Iceman" because of this - he adapts this technique for himself, freezing his victims so that the authorities won't know when they were actually killed. The movie was a little slow but not entirely noticeable, and it's always interesting to see movies based on a real-life person and the life they lead; the film really does make us believe that Richard loved his family, but was able to separate the contract killing part of his life from his home life, for the most part.

The Iceman is in theaters today, May 17th, and is rated R with a runtime of 106 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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