Based on a true story, 'The Iceman' stars Michael Shannon as Richard Kuklinski - a towering monster of a man who becomes romantically involved with Deborah Pellicotti (Winona Ryder). Before long, they are married and move into a fancy new home. What his wife doesn't realise is that Kuklinski is secretly a contract killer.
Working for the merciless Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta), he is sent to take care of business and soon leaves a growing trail of bodies in his wake (estimated to be over 100). Also working for Roy are Josh Rosenthal (played by a moustachioed David Schwimmer) and Mickey Scicoli (John Ventimiglia).
Michael Shannon certainly gets into character as the Iceman. With a cold, dead look in his eyes and emotionless delivery of lines, he acts cool as a cucumber even when a gun is pointing at his face. While he plays the part well, it is also difficult to care about him as the lead. Instead it's his wife (with a great performance by Ryder) and eventual daughters who become the emotional hook, as they are unknowingly drawn deeper into his dangerous world.
The 1970s are recreated in authentic detail, with the costumes, haircuts, cars, music and decor all setting the scene. The pacing is also reminiscent of gangster opuses from the era.
Just when you think the film has recycled every kind of gangster stereotype there is, Kuklinski crosses paths with an entirely different kind of hitman called Mr. freezy. Played by Chris Evans, this unpredictable character drives around in an ice-cream van, dispatching people with explosives and poison spray. While not as notorious historically, I couldn't help but think that he'd have made a better focal point for the film. it's almost as if Kuklinski is a spin-off character who we'd normally just see as a background henchman.
What we are left with is an average crime thriller with an emotionless killer, which ultimately turns out to be his downfall, and that of the film.