The Iceman – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

the icemanThe Iceman – 3/5 – This is for a review for a movie that came out a year ago, and was able to catch it on Blu-Ray.  This film stars Michael Shannon as a famed contract killer.   Shannon is a very well renowned actor, and he basically exudes greatness with this character.  Outside of some of the slow pacing, The Iceman is an enjoyable film.

Premise: The true story of Richard Kuklinski, the film follows this notorious contract killer, who also lives in the guise as a normal family man. In the two lives, we witness hardship, struggle, and moments that will define what makes worth to a man who lives many lies.

In the lead role of Richard Kuklinski we have Michael Shannon.  In this role, he provides great versatility.  He does this because on one side of the coin, he exudes true viciousness, but flips that when he goes home and performs a true diehard family man.  In a role that has this kind of duality; Shannon does a marvelous job in showing depth and flexibility in this character.  When Richard is committing the contract killings, you become fearful as if you’re there, as Shannon gives us a truly cold man who has no remorse in his eyes.  At the same time, when he is not committing these heinous acts, he is with the family where he shows compassion of life when interacting with his wife and children.  Along with living as a family man, you also see how the weight of this care is a flaw, because having that kind of attachment weights on some of his decisions.  As the film progresses, these dualities become harder to juggle, and you see the weariness it has on Richard.  In this, I believe Shannon gives his best acting job to date.  Outside of Shannon, we have a stellar supporting cast.  In the supporting roles, we have the wife of Kuklinski, Deborah (Winona Ryder), the mob boss he does killings for, Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta), another contract killer and companion, Mr. Freezy (Chris Evans) and drug dealer Marty Freeman (James Franco).  These well known performers do an excellent job in providing individuals that are more than generic plot devices, but are integral in moving this ‘true story’ along.  In the progression, they give us distinct and individualistic people, whose influence has an effect on the outcome of Richard’s own decisions in the film.  In having depth in the supporting roles, it helps add emotional struggles and tense situation when it comes to their interactions with Kuklinski.  Deborah helps give a wonderful aspect of the ‘family life’ for Kuklinksi, as Roy Demeo helps provide a dark aspect of his other side as the famed contract killer.  Beyond this, everyone else are more of the obvious ‘one sided’ characters you find in most film.  Even in there generalities of these characters, it doesn’t hinder any entertaining value in watching the film.

The direction follows the formula of any typical ‘true story’ themed film.  As with most true story films, it focuses on the specific events.  Within the specifics, it goes along a ‘chronological’ track.  In this track, the film puts an emphasis on the following formula;

Showing of the date of specific moment

Incident is put on display

Aftermath and consequence of incident

Epilogue to intro of next event

This is the basic formula throughout the whole film.  In the first act, we are introduced to each of the main players, which include Richard Kuklinski, his wife Deborah and the mob boss Roy Demeo.  In the beginning, we are witness to both sides of Richard’s personalities, as we see the emotional family man with Deborah, as well as the stone cold killer when he goes about doing jobs for Roy.  In this, we see the duality play along the linear progression of the direction, as Richard plays both sides of the coin, as he tries to get the best of each situation.  There isn’t anything really eventual in the first half, but there is enough to pay attention to the true events.  Eventually, when the film heads into the second act, things begin to turn for the worst, as Roy get’s into deeper trouble with certain gang affiliations.  This causes Richard to take on more auspicious dealings, which start to involve another contract killer, Mr. Freezy.  As he goes deeper and becomes more ruthless, the psychological twisting of Richard’s mental state helps invoke real tension and emotional moments in the film.  This helps connect each important event with the audience, especially when some dull exposition happens between these events.  As the film progresses through, we eventually see both worlds collide, causing a domino effect to happen with Richard’s life.  Through this, the flaws of having dual lives begin to wane, and the third act kicks into full force.  The mundane pacing kicks up to a faster pace, as the film laces up nicely in the climax.  As this happens, a somber tone strings the meandering threads, bringing some closure to this crazy film.

The visuals of the film give you a compare and contrast feel.  The reason I say this is because the whole ‘duality’ wouldn’t work without the visuals complimenting this theme.  As we get a look at the family, we see a very humble yet simple side of the character, helping invoke a man trying to live a normal life.  That coin flips when he is ‘working’, as these scenes creations are dire, dark and gloomy.  The film does a good job in transitioning between both, helping build upon that ‘compare and contrast’, creating higher feelings of tension throughout the film.  The score is very subtle, but the precision helps keep the themes and tone steady from beginning till the end.

Overall, The Ice Man has a lot of good things going on, but it never goes beyond that bar to scream amazingly entertaining.  With a good cast, a simple story and decent visuals, you will get enjoyment.  If you want a good film to watch on a Friday night, check this out.  I would recommend adding to your collection if you’re a Michael Shannon fan.

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