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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Michael Shannon
Winona Ryder
Ray Liotta
Chris Evans
David Schwimmer.
Directors
Ariel Vromen.
Screenwriters
Morgan Land
Ariel Vromen.
Running Time
106 minutes

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The Iceman
Michael Shannon cometh


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Plot
A biopic of Richard Kuklinski (Shannon), a tormented psychopath who, employed as a contract killer by the New Jersey Mafia, murdered as many as 200 people over several decades — all unbeknownst to his loving wife (Ryder) and daughters.


Review
The Iceman

With performances of increasingly bug-eyed intensity, an affably bemused public exterior and a knack for loopy internet memes — check out his sorority letter video, if you haven’t already — Michael Shannon is swiftly becoming the new Christopher Walken. That’s no bad thing. It’s always thrilling when the industry finally gets wise to a charismatic, not-quite-handsome actor, allowing him to flaunt his abilities outside the confines of supporting roles. But if Take Shelter was a richer leading showcase than any Walken was handed in his prime, The Iceman is Shannon’s own King Of New York: Ariel Vromen’s tough-minded true-crime thriller locates chilling reserves of violence in the wild, unblinking gaze that has become the actor’s trademark.

Shannon’s aggressive turn brings vigour to an otherwise familiar portrait of the East Coast underworld: its grey-skied New Jersey gangland predates that of The Sopranos by a good few decades, but you won’t have trouble recognising it. Shannon plays Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer so alarmingly prolific that, by the time he was arrested in 1986, his ballpark body count ranged from 100 to 250; at times in this bleakly bloody film, you could be forgiven for thinking Vromen is out to top that.

The film cannily introduces Kuklinski on his first date with skittish future wife Deborah (an affecting Winona Ryder), allowing Shannon to establish him as an otherwise shy, socially awkward figure whose inner psycho emerges with greater frequency when he comes into the employ of Mafia lord Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) in the ’60s, while his family remains nervously unaware of Daddy’s doings.

This barely tenable tension between the domestic and professional spheres is where the film excels; Kuklinski’s criminal life is less evocatively detailed and therefore less compelling, even with pop-up appearances from David Schwimmer, Chris Evans and James Franco as various lowlifes. The star cameos seem somewhat cowed by Shannon’s hair-trigger performance — but so does the film, which all too often falls back on stock biopic structures. Shannon’s standing tall, but he needs more films that can stand up to him.


Verdict
This solemn, blood-soaked thriller lacks the dynamism of its star, but is an impressive showcase for him nonetheless: it’s as hard to look away from Shannon’s performance as it is to look directly at it.


Reviewed by Guy Lodge

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Iceman
Empire Star Rating

RE: Shannon's excellent, as ever ...

I was pleasantly surprised by The Iceman, but couldn't help but feel that this could have been truly great and not just good, if it had fallen into the hands of a better director - while Scorsese is too obvious these days for such a story, someone like Ben Affleck could have really given this the touch it needs and upped the brutality & tension a few notches. It's still a pretty tense film as is, due to the cracking story arc presented by this particular script of events, but something mor... More

Posted by Vitamin F at 13:06, 10 April 2014 | Report This Post


Shannon's excellent, as ever ...

... but the script isn't focused enough and the direction is too pedestrian to impress. There are a lot of familiar beats and the camera never really gets inside Kuklinski's mind. There's a lot of what I would call 'reportage' as opposed to cinema here. Shame, because there's a great cast here and a movie like this really needs to be as unique as the man (meaning Shannon or Kuklinsky, BTW). ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Nicky C at 11:44, 21 January 2014 | Report This Post


The Iceman.

Missed Opportunity, Having read the book and watched the documentaries of Richard Kuklinsky I awaited the release of The Iceman with interest. Wow what a disappointment. There was little information about the supporting characters (Roy Demeo and the horrors of the Gemini lounge) and his link to the mafia.In the book to prove himself to Demeo Kuklinsky got out from the car and shot a man walking his dog in the back of the head,. In the movie he shoots a bum not the same impact. Why alter this,t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by quotza at 20:37, 17 August 2013 | Report This Post


Cant wait to see this...

I have already read the book on which the film is based, and ive watched 2 documentaries Richard Kuklinski done while in prison (1992 & 2001) and im really looking forward to this movie. He truely was a one of a kind, both in his methods of murder aswell as being an outsider working for everyone in the mafia, but never fitting in as he wasn't Italian, but this separation is what made him so unique. After reading the book it gives you more of an insight into movies such as Goodfella's and t... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Sparkykelly69 at 16:06, 10 June 2013 | Report This Post


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