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Now this is good acting...
coastdaze31 May 2013
Michael Shannon should get at least an Academy Award for his performance in this movie. This guy can act and you lose the person and totally see the characters he portrays. Reminds me of Daniel Day Lewis.

Anyway, I had never heard of this Kuklinsky person and it was interesting to see his story. The multiplicity of his lifestyle had to be a killer (no pun intended) to live out. I don't know of many actors who could go from one to the other so effortlessly. From cold-hearted killer to nice person to ragging man to loving husband and father. Michael Shannon can do this well. And those subtle expressions of his! They're great. Icy. Kind. Murderous.

I'm not a fan of Winona Ryder but I liked her portrayal of the Mrs. in this movie. She was believable and really had the suffering wife thing down.

While leaving the movie I ran into a gentleman who had watched the actual documentary of Kuklinsky's life and he said the movie was a good portrayal of the facts. That is a good thing to hear because this kind of story like lends itself to Hollywood sensationalism. And while some of that may have happened, it was a good movie about a bad man. Did I feel sorry for Kuklinsky at the end? Yes...well actually it was pity that I felt.
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A Good Movie, But...
bandito_200019 May 2013
The Iceman was an enjoyable movie with very good acting, but ultimately quite unrealistic.

The Iceman, Richard Kuklinski, comes off as a very sympathetic character in the end, whereas in real life he truly was a cold emotionless and sociopathic killer. His family weren't so much cherished and loved as they were possessions that were his and his alone.

Much has been learned about sociopathy by interviewing Kuklinski, but unfortunately none of this was used to shape and portray his real character in the movie. Nonetheless, the movie is worth seeing, but more as entertainment than enlightenment about Kuklinski's life of crime.
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Straight Up Gangster Movie
habanamick27 May 2013
The Iceman a biopic based on New Jersey hit-man Richard Kuklinski who managed to murder at least 100 and possibly up to 250 victims in a span of almost 40 years.

Michael Shannon giving a strong performance as the hit-man with the calculating and creepy demeanor of a psychopathic killer with no conscience who can still flip the switch back to his life in the suburbs with wife and kids. Yet a shade of subtlety and pathos in his portrayal of Kuklinski that we can actually identify and take some interest in his struggles. With the exception of Winona Ryder who fits seamlessly as naive suburban housewife (and the 2 daughters) very unlikely to feel sympathy for the victims with the exception of one senseless killing. Mostly wiseguys, mostly scumbags. We're not all that mad at Kuklinski for the nasty stuff he's doing.

Ray Liotta a can't miss as a minor mob boss, all the acting first rate and the characters real. But the Iceman story is told without ice and without chasers, a gangster flick without sentiments real or phony thrown in. Viewers hoping to draw insights or conclusions from all the dead bodies might end up disappointed. The 'Iceman' moniker from his practice of freezing bodies to confuse the time of death.

My biggest question for Kuklinski would be, how do you get away with so many murders, so many different methods, places, people over a span of almost 40 years? In the true crime shows the perp makes one little slip in his only perfect crime and ends up in the slam.

The movie is what it is because I don't think there's all that much complex or new in a Kuklinski to learn. Abused growing up, turns to sociopathic super bully behavior as an adult to get what he wants and to survive. No genius but smart enough to know when to turn it down out in the suburbs. Kuklinski was an usher at mass every Sunday. They should have included that in the movie.
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Read the book - 'The Iceman' is a woefully underdeveloped disappointment
Having read Philip Carlo's biography of Richard Kuklinski 'The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer', I can say that Ariel Vromen's big screen adaptation 'The Iceman' is a big disappointment. While the author had a habit of repeating himself and some of Richard's recollections seemed rather dubious in places, Carlo's lengthy book was an engrossing read, I enjoyed it very much.

The problem with the film is that it's awfully constructed; it's all so terribly rushed. It fails to develop both the narrative and subsequently the character of Richard Kuklinski, glossing over almost everything that made the book such an interesting read. I appreciate that cramming one's life story into a screenplay can be a difficult task, however there are major flaws in the script that could have easily been avoided – the screenplay should've been scrapped and completely rewritten.

His unspeakably awful childhood, for instance, is covered with an utterly perfunctory flashback scene that lasts for all of about 15 seconds. This is a fatal mistake, because it was his harrowing formative years that shaped Richard.

Stanley Kuklinski, his deeply cruel father, conditioned his son with the daily violence he inflicted upon his whole family. After Stanley dealt Richard's brother Florian a particularly malicious beating, he died from his injuries; the police were told that he fell down a flight of stairs. Richard's mother was also a callous, unpleasant person; despite her zealous religious values she had no qualms about battering her children with a broom handle. Even when Richard sought solitude in the placidity of his local church as an altar boy, nuns would punish him by splitting the skin on his knuckles with the edge of a metal ruler. All of the relentless anguish was compounded by his family's total destitution.

When 13-year-old Richard also became the victims of local bullies, it all became too much for him – he beat one of them to death with a pole and discarded his body with brutal efficiency. Kuklinski recalled that it was at this moment that he discovered 'it was better to give than receive'. The passages of Carlo's book that cover his youth make for appalling reading; unfortunately none of this power is to be found in Ariel Vromen's rather boring adaptation.

Lacking also are the details of Kuklinski's career. The book recalls Kuklinski's methods of murder, the way he stalked his prey and his utter indifference towards his victims' suffering. Very little of this was explored in the film, we get little more than a brief montage of random people being blown away – it's all so damn rushed and disorganised. Considering what a desperately violent individual Kuklinski was, 'The Iceman' is a rather neutered production. It has none of the visceral qualities that shock you like in 'The Godfather' and 'Goodfellas', mob films that draw you into their brutal world where death is merely 'business'.

Not only is the narrative woefully underdeveloped but it's also sheer fiction in many instances. Despite having great dramatic material to work with, Ariel Vromen and Morgan Land decided that their own version of events were better. Even the more faithful scenes have been tweaked and messed about with for no discernible reason. For example, Roy DeMeo didn't introduce Kuklinski to contract killing, he had already had a career with the DeCavalcante New Jersey crime family and had killed scores of people both professionally and privately. It also forgets to depict the savage beatings Richard used to give his wife Barbara and the pernicious effect it had on the family dynamic.

As you have probably heard, Michael Shannon is the highlight of the film. Much like the real man, he has a steely reserve and an explosive temper; he also resembles him in both appearance and speech. However, despite his best efforts, Shannon is completely let down by the script. While Shannon is indeed cold and calculated, the film fails to truly capture Kuklinski's aura of menace and particularly his notoriety in Mafiadom.

While the performances are fine, 'The Iceman' is quite frankly ruined by total underdevelopment. If I had entered the film with no knowledge of the man, I would have found it a boring, mediocre mob film. But knowing the depth and drama of this tragic figure means that 'The Iceman' is a complete misfire that deserves much more, ideally a remake. The only thing that it successfully achieved was the credibility of its period styling.
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A great story ruined!?!? OR did we (or just me) expect too much???
Julian092220 May 2013
I had to drive over 70miles one way to watch this movie and was it worth it? Hard to say if one watched "the iceman tapes" from HBO. To me personally it was disappointing, but I probably expected way too much. So lower your expectations and you will have a nice evening in the cinema.

Shannon is great, superb, I guess nobody could have played him better, but the editing, the storytelling is very abrupt and a bit too edgy. Its not a good fellas, its not even close to it, don't expect even a mob flick. Its an OK movie that had so much more potential. YET it is still worth watching since you don't see movies like that nowadays very often.

The potential of the story would have been an 11, this movie is a 7 with an extra point for Shannons performance. And in relevance I should mention that I would give broken city a 3.5, gangster squad a 4.5, so I guess people who watch this movie with not so high expectations will love it!

PS. No "the iceman" did NOT got his nick because he was so cold, like another reviewer wrote, but because he froze a body for two years. The officials gave him then that name. All this is well known through the "iceman tapes".
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Make Room for Daddy
David Ferguson24 May 2013
Greetings again from the darkness. Dramatizations are at their best when actual footage of the subject or event doesn't exist. They can be an effective way to highlight a particularly interesting story or person with details we might not otherwise access. Richard Kuklinski's story is fascinating and frightening. He is known as the mob's most prolific hit-man/contract killer. Writer/director Arial Vromen has adapted Anthony Bruno's novel for the screen, and wisely cast Michael Shannon in the lead. It makes a nice companion piece to the chilling 1992 documentary The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer.

The movie is dominated by the hulking presence of Shannon as Richard Kuklinski. Shannon is no match for the physical size of Kuklinski, but his movements and the camera angles capture the powerful and imposing monster that he was. If you are unfamiliar with Kuklinski's story, he killed somewhere between 100-250 people. His missions were carried forth in cold-blooded, heartless and widely disparate manners. Additionally, he often dismembered his victims and froze bodies and parts to prevent the actual time of death from being established. He was good at his job, but hardly a good guy. But wait! Not so fast ...

Kuklinski was also a husband a father of two daughters who made up what appeared to be a lovely, normal family in suburban New Jersey. This guy had an internal switch he flipped from the street to the dining room table. When he was captured, his wife and daughter claimed they had no clue what he did for a living (he had told them he was in Finance). Sure, they admitted to his having a wild temper and even threatening his wife a few times, but they never once considered that he was a cold-blooded killer by day and neighborly barbecue dad on weekends.

Winona Ryder plays Deborah, Kuklinski's wife. Before you roll your eyes, you should know that Ryder is exceptional in the role. Her tease in Black Swan gave us hope she had returned to form, but this turn displays the talent we always knew was there. The always dependable and creepy Ray Liotta is perfectly cast as Roy Demeo, the mobster for whom Kuklinski worked. The scenes with Shannon and Liotta together are bone-chillingly frightening. Chris Evans (light years from Captain America) plays fellow hit-man Robert Prongay aka Mr Freezy. Kuklinski credits Prongay with valuable insight into poison and disposal of bodies. It's heart-warming to see that even contract killers have support groups. Other support work comes courtesy of David Schwimmer as Josh (Demeo's right hand man), Robert Davi (as Leonard Marks. Demeo's link to the family head), James Franco (as one of the hits), and Stephen Dorff as Kuklinski's incarcerated brother Joey.

Childhood flashbacks give us the table-setting necessary to understand the balance of nature v nurture in the Kuklinski household. Still, no matter how much abuse or misery one has a child, it's difficult to comprehend the stoic evil that possessed Kuklinski. And to be clear, Michael Shannon's performance is his best yet ... and that is saying a great deal. He has become one of the most interesting actors - one who can take the lead as he does here and in Take Shelter, or as a scene-stealing supporter in Revolutionary Road, Mud and the upcoming Man of Steel (as General Zod). He's not a flashy actor, just an extremely talented one.

Vromen captures the gritty feel of the nearly three decades of "family" life in a manner that reminds of Kill the Irishmen ... the Ray Stevenson take on Danny Greene. The atmosphere and inner turmoil are similar, but there is no comparison the Kuklinski evil. Should you doubt this, I would highly recommend the documentary previously mentioned. Watching the actual dead eyes of the real Richard Kuklinski as he talks about his life is beyond horrifying.
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The iceman
cinematic_aficionado23 June 2013
A life of crime. Are some people genetically predisposed to crime or is it all about choices?

In this hard hitting drama, we follow the rise and fall of Richard Kuklinski played utterly convincingly by Michael Shannon. The man who terrorised many, yet he was a faithful and devoted dad and husband where the constant struggle is shown in keeping the balance between a life of crime and family harmony.

One scene I find particularly mesmerising is when he visits his brother in prison and as he is about to leaves his brother shouts that since are both born criminals they shall both end up in jail.

Kudos to the makers for conveying tension and emotion in the correct dose. My only remark would be that it kind of lost its way between being a crime drama and autobiography, however whilst it successfully is a bit of both, I sort of craved it picked a genre and dig a little deeper.
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could have been better.
busman19292 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie let me down in so many ways. I do understand that most of the time the book is better then the movie for obvious reasons. Time restrictions,budget and movie rating system. But to not even come close and Im talking not even in the same ball park is a huge let down.

Spoiler coming.... Biggest error of the movie was that the director failed to show how heartless "The Iceman" really was. Let me explain.

In the book "The Iceman" would sample new weapons on people mostly the homeless walking under the East River Parkway near the Brooklyn bridge. The police most of the time just wrote it off as the homeless killing each other off. One of his more horrendous acts was to drive a victim to the deep woods of Pennsylvania and seek out a cave. He would then tie up his victim with food all over him...He would then video tape the rats chewing the victim alive. Im not getting into every murder he did but, This does sum up the point that the movie somewhat just skims the surface of how ruthless and heartless the "Iceman" really was.

As for the movie as a whole...I rate this as a somewhat average run of the mill crime drama. I left feeling like I just wasted 2 hours.
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A massive, formulaic disappointment, with a towering performance from Michael Shannon
tomgillespie200224 August 2013
Having developed a morbid fascination with serial killers over the past few years, I was delighted to hear that Richard Kuklinski, one of the most prolific and emotionless mass murderers in history, was to be given the cinematic treatment. Not only was his story ripe for a juicy adaptation, but Michael Shannon, the most consistently mesmerising actor working in film today, was cast as the titular Iceman. Sadly, inexperienced director Ariel Vromen, who up to this point had only made two films I've never heard of, has delivered a by-the-numbers biopic; one that follows familiar genre conventions and whitewashes Kuklinski's story completely in favour of a formula that a mainstream audience can comfortably follow.

After being impressed by his towering frame and generally intimidating nature, mob boss Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta), who is in the employ of the Gambino crime family, takes the young Richard Kuklinski under his wing. To get a feel for him, DeMeo tells Kuklinski to kill at tramp in broad daylight, to which Kuklinski coldly obeys . Soon enough, Kuklinski is carrying out mob hits for DeMeo, while telling his clueless wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) that he is in finance. He meets fellow contract killer Robert 'Mr. Freezy' Prongay (Chris Evans), who teaches Kuklinski the benefits of using cyanide to carry out the murders, and then freezing the bodies to rule out a time of death. But with DeMeo coming under pressure from his boss Leonard Marks (Robert Davi) for a drug deal gone wrong, Kuklinki finds himself and his family under threat.

What might have been a fascinating insight into the inner workings of a sociopath, The Iceman is nothing more than your standard straight-to-DVD mobster movie. Completely ignoring Kuklinski's natural instinct for murder (he was a serial killer long before the mob approached him) and his reputation as a merciless and cruel man, beating and killing men for the slightest of reasons, Vromen even adds a family angle that is completely untrue. To give the lead character a bit of recognisable humanity, here he is portrayed as a loving family man, dedicated to his wife and kids as the mob close around him. In fact, in real life Kuklinski was an aggressive wife-beater; a tyrannical king of the household who regularly committed acts of physical and mental abuse on his family.

Artistic license is a right that every film-maker has when conducting a biopic, but when there's a complex and fascinating story to tell, however dubious some of Kuklinski's claims are (he claims to be responsible for the murder of Jimmy Hoffa), then why make such drastic changes if all you're doing is making your subject the same character seen a thousand times before? Shannon deserves better than that, and his unnerving performance is one of the few saving graces here, but his character is reduced to nothing more than a standard mobster, seduced by the lifestyle and cutting himself off from regular life. He was a cruel, savage monster, who disposed of some of his victims by having them eaten alive by rats (or so he claims), or in one incident, he allowed his victim time to pray to God to see if he would answer his prayers, before killing him (this scene is played out in the film with James Franco as the victim).

Plot strands veer off path and are offered no resolution, making them completely redundant. Some are intriguing, such as Stephen Dorff's appearance as Kuklinski's imprisoned paedophile brother, who hints at Kuklinski's dark childhood and abuse. Others are not, such as DeMeo's right-hand man Josh Rosenthal (David Schwimmer) who is given more screen time than necessary, only for the story to fizzle out into absolutely nothing, as does DeMeo himself. Given a longer running time, a more experienced director, and ultimately more commitment to the source material (various books and recordings exist of Kukinski, the most popular being Philip Carlo's book The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Contratc Killer and the TV movie The Iceman Tapes), this could have been highly engrossing cinema, instead it's a crushing disappointment, saved only by Shannon's imposing performance.
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Difficult to emotionally invest in but wickedly entertaining.
Sergeant_Tibbs14 August 2013
With 2011's Take Shelter, Michael Shannon is proving to be a fascinating leading man. Just through his presence, he can convey that unstable line between sanity and insanity and bad and good. You can just tell his inner conflict is going to explode at boiling point. It's unfortunate that while Shannon certainly transforms into the 'iceman,' The Iceman's script doesn't call for much of his range. Instead, it's a moody gangster film that revels in the moments where it can step just beyond the clichés while still pressing all the standard buttons. It's interesting in these kinds of scenes where a mob boss forces an associate to give to a homeless person or Shannon lets James Franco's cameo pray to God just to see what happens. It's a well-acted film, particularly Winona Ryder standing out in the supporting cast and it's very slickly made. But the fundamental problem with the film is its rhythm. The editing is constantly hectic even at the smallest things. There's no natural fluctuations that give emotional moments gravitas or action moments excitement. It does end up fatiguing and it lessens the sense of journey and change. Nevertheless, it's still a wickedly entertaining thrill ride to the end, just blunt at its edges.

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The Impressive True Story of a Family Man and Notorious Cold Blood Killer
Claudio Carvalho24 January 2016
In 1964, Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) dates Deborah Pellicotti (Winona Ryder) and kills a man that made an offensive comment about her during a game of pool. The violent Kuklinski works dubbing porn films but he tells to Deborah that he dubs Disney cartoons. Soon they get married and have two daughters. When his boss Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) closes the laboratory where Kuklinski works, he is invited to work as contract hit man after a test killing a homeless man. Along the years he works for Roy but he falls in disgrace when he let a teenager hooker that witnessed a killing freely go since he does not kill children. Kuklinski begins to work independently as a free-lancer irritating Roy that threatens his family and him. In 1986, Kuklinski is arrested by the police after committing more than one hundred murders.

"The Iceman" is a film with the impressive true story of a family man and notorious cold blood killer. It is impressive how a man could be a good father and husband and also a contract killer and hide this secret from his family for twenty-two years. The great cast is another plus in this great film. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "O Homem de Gelo" ("The Iceman")
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A great movie and great acting
General Krax24 August 2013
Having read and seen the documentary about The Iceman I was a little scared that they would have gone all Hollywood on it but I was pleasantly surprised.

A few details of his life were not accurate, but the movie does not focus on that anyhow. What it did do, was to show the man as what I would have imagined him as. Anyone that has seen the movie I'd recommend that you google the documentary about him. In the final scene of the movie Michael Shannon manages to catch his persona insanely well. Almost gave me the chills how well he acted in the last scene, not to say the whole movie.

Hands down one of the best depicted movies on a real world person. And if you haven't seen the documentary watch it first, it won't spoil the movie but it will give you a reference point on the man.
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Decent gangster flick, minus the charm and depth of Goodfellas
AmericanFilmTheory13 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Iceman Ariel Vromen's The Iceman might succeed too well in depicting its subject, mob hit-man Richard Kuklinski. I saw this film recently at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was lucky enough to hear Vromen's Q&A afterwards. This is a solid gangster movie if you're an aficionado of the genre, but because it doesn't probe very far beneath the surface of this true story, it fails to reach the status of a great film. In fact, I think much of the audience left the theatre with the impression that this was mostly a meditation on mental illness.

Kuklinski, Vromen told the audience, was a sociopath. As such, he had no conscience, and was able to kill at least 100 people without worrying too much about it. He also had no fear – hence the nickname 'iceman.' Michael Shannon, who plays Kuklinski, does such a good job of keeping his face clenched like a fist that we can't really empathize with him. The heart of the movie is supposed to be the dichotomy between the icy hit-man who never gets rattled and has no remorse, and the family man who only wants to take care of his family. Vromen told us that this is something we can probably all identify with – the hardnosed lawyer or business man who wrecks peoples' careers and fortunes by weekday, and the loving husband and father by weekend, or some variation on this theme. Vromen's somewhat incongruous examples from his own life were playing backgammon one minute on an Israeli air force base, and flying into Lebanon the next to witness all the horrors of war – and going to law school by day and being a DJ at raves by night. But Kuklinski seems so brutal, and so filled with rage that we never really believe that he cares about his family all that much. In fact there just isn't that much time devoted to scenes of Kuklinski with his family, and so this central theme never really gets off the ground.

Vromen seemed to want to portray Kuklinski as something more than a sociopath, though, through certain scenes I won't discuss here, and during the Q&A said that in fact, based on the outtakes he'd seen from the HBO documentary, Kuklinskli could be quite charming. Between takes, Vromen said, the real Kuklinski told the story of dropping his daughter off at Catholic school and parking on one of the sisters' spots. She told him not to do this, and he whispered that God had told him to do this. Vromen wondered why HBO hadn't included this in the documentary, which made me wonder why he didn't include it in his own film. Perhaps Kuklinski was really charming, but this just doesn't come through in the film, but would have made it far more interesting. In any case, although I'm not a psychiatrist, it seems to me that it's common for sociopaths to be charming in any case, so this doesn't make the character much more complex. Tony Soprano, if we can compare fictional characters with real ones, was a charming sociopath, but because he somehow charmed us, and his psychiatrist, he was more compelling.

Another underdeveloped theme in the movie is that of chance and religion. Early on Kuklinski tells his future wife (Winona Ryder, who does a great job here) that he doesn't believe in chance. But he only becomes a contract killer when Ray Liotta's character, minor mob-boss Roy Demeo, sees how coolly Kuklinski reacts when attacked by another gangster. Roy closes down Kuklinski's porn editing studio and gives him a choice between unemployment and becoming a killer. Kuklinski thus seems to some extent to have been forced into the job. He was 'just trying to take care of his family.' This is pretty thin, though, and I think we have to see him as fully responsible for his actions. As a side note, when Vromen was asked by an audience member where the moral center of the film was, he hemmed and hawed a bit and told us that the moral of the story was that we should treat each other better. In other words, he either didn't understand the question (despite his having attended law school) or hadn't given much thought to what should have been a central theme of the film. There are some hints (which again, I won't discuss) that Kuklinski thinks that God is dead and so everything is permitted, but again, this is never really developed, and so is not very thought-provoking.

As I said at the beginning, this is, despite everything, a good movie to watch if you've seen Goodfellas too many times to enjoy it anymore, but want something similar. The Iceman, though, really does feel derivative (not only in casting Liotta) of Goodfellas, but without its charm.

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Michael Shannon is Cold as Ice
bjhomeboy0819 December 2013
The Iceman was an amazing, gritty, and gruesome movie that portrays death unlike other films. Michael Shannon continues to showcase his acting prowess as Richard Kuklinski. As Kuklinski continues to kill he becomes increasingly addicted by his gruesome actions, and like most addicts Kuklinski has masterfully concealed his secret life from his loved ones. But unlike other psychopathic killers, Kiklinski is motivated by a basic human trait, which is to support his family. Although being a hit-man is not an ideal profession, it does have a huge cash reward.

The movie does an excellent job portraying Kuklinski's tragic dilemma and to top things off Shannon's chilling performance glued me to the edge of my sofa.

But this film does have some faults. Some of the secondary characters are a bit shallow and some scenes tend to drag on a little bit. But these are just little knit picks to an overall outstanding movie.
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Michael Shannon...The New Face of Evil for Decades To Come
Ed-Shullivan3 September 2013
Wow!! What a great feature film for Michael Shannon to display his range of acting and depth of character portrayal as the real New Jersey contract (serial?) killer, Richard Kuklinski. Michael Shannon has played dark brooding characters before such as in his roles in movies like My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, as Brad McCullum, The Man of Steel as General Zod, and in Take Shelter as the father Curtis LaForche, of a family who believe his fixation on building an underground shelter is too extreme. He also plays a dark brooding character in Boardwalk Empire, whose role evolves from a former Prohibition Agent on the run after murdering his partner, to the muscle for a bootlegger. In my watching Michael Shannon evolve as an actor over the past 20 years of film making, I believe he has found his true calling in the mobster/crime genre.

The supporting cast is very strong with Winona Ryder playing the feeble Deborah Kuklinski, the wife of Richard Kuklinski. In actual life Richard and Deborah Kuklinski had two daughters and one son. The movie however depicts the Kuklinski's as only raising two daughters. The reason for this deviation in art imitating life may be to reveal a more softer, caring husband and father Richard Kuklinski, doting over the three women in his life. Which brings me to what I believe the director Ariel Vromen was looking to achieve with this film. Ariel Vromen was on record in stating that after he watched the real Richard Kuklinski HBO documentary The Iceman Tapes: Conversations With A Killer that he "was so amazed by the story that he actually liked Richard Kuklinski and had empathy and sympathy for him."

Some movie goers will not appreciate the lack of gratuitous violence that would have been expected from the real contract killer Richard Kuklinski. So if you are expecting to see a very violent and physical Richard Kuklinski character, the director Ariel Vromen has purposely excluded the violent bloody side of the actual vicious killings of Richard Kuklinski displayed in other movies like Goodfellas, or the Godfather.

Another strong performance was displayed by Ray Liotta who portrays Roy DeMeo a loan shark and drug pusher who is trying to control Richard Kulkinski as his own killing machine. Robert Davi as the middle man between the real mob bosses and Roy DeMeo who wanted more recognition from the mob was well done. Davi, only has a few scenes in the movie, but each of his scenes is significant for the historical references that unfold. Totally away from the humorous character David Schwimmer is known for in the TV series Friends, as Ross Geller, Schwimmer does an excellent job playing Josh Rosenthal, a henchman for mobster Roy DeMeo.

Chris Evans portrayal of Robert Pronger, aka Mr. Freezy, was eerily real to character and a very creative role. He plays a lone wolf who mentors the Iceman and exposes Richard Kuklinski on more practical ways to murder people. Again, the gratuitous violence is very soft core of these two contract killers who are displayed cutting up body parts and loading them in to walk in freezers. The movie is less than two hours long and to capture approximately 30 years of Kuklinski's rampage is difficult to say the least, so I appreciated that the director chose to focus on Richard Kuklinski's multiple characters as the devoted family man. cold blooded killer and lack of emotion or fear, due to flashbacks of his own early childhood abuse at the hands of his father. Stephen Dorff plays Richard's brother Joseph, who true to life was serving a life time term for raping then throwing a teenage girl to her death off the top of a roof. Richard and his brother Joseph were not close in real life and when they were both imprisoned in the same cell block they merely shrugged shoulders towards each other in passing. Why? The real Richard Kuklinski felt his only true family was his children and wife, as portrayed by director Arial Vromer's The Iceman.

This is a must see for any enthusiasts of the real criminal world true stories. It boasts a seasoned group of veteran actors who shared the screen with star Michael Shannon. It is two hours of excellent historical reference minus much of the bloodshed and violence one can see in any one of thousands of B movies if this is what you really want to see.
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Smoldering and Volcanic Acting
aharmas27 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Michael Shannon performs with such magnetic power that one can't keep from looking at the screen and wondering just how lethal his next move is going to be. His acting is so powerful it keeps drawing us closer, even though the nature of his character and his actions are repulsive and deplorable. Yet there is another side, barely hinted at that shows his humanity, and with his interaction and support of his devoted wife, beautifully played by Wynona Ryder, we wonder what makes him tick.

He is a professional and ruthless assassin, one of the best in his field. Through complications in his associations, he finds himself the target of his superiors and because of domestic obligations he reneges in his contract, which complicates matters even more. Incredibly, this might generate a little sympathy from the audience because we don't want him to fall so quickly. We know this will ultimately happen, but this type of character deserves to at least, overcome and few obstacles.

"The Iceman" resembles other gangster sagas which have been embellished and mythologized since their release. In reality, this film might be more accurate in their portrayal because these are not very nice individual. As played by Shannon, his hit-man has a cold soul which at times unleashes so much hate and destruction, he endangers the lives of his loved ones, and in a truly spine chilling moment, he reveals his lack of regret, with one exception. I was very impressed by Liotta, giving us so much more in a few minutes than all he did in "Goodfellas". He must be better because Shannon is indeed as perfect an actor as he can be here, giving us so much with his glances, his stares, his voice, not wasting a single part of his body to create a truly frightening monster, not a special effect wonder, one peg in a machinery stressing camera moves. In fact, the camera follows him and never stops focusing on him. He might interact with different people, but this is his story, and it is his actions that attract and repel us.

There are many great parts in the film, and some of them don't have anything violent in them, but it is the specter of the potentially explosive nature of Shannon's reactions that create a tension which doesn't appear in other pictures of this type. In those family life is so wonderful to provide contrast to the horrors of crime and its imminent poisoning and destruction of the innocent. There is a chilling moment at the end of "The Godfathers I and II" when Michael has surrendered to the dark forces. Here, one single comment, one careless look, one direct or indirect attack can provoke a reaction that is bound to leave a few bodies on the screen and keep us in a state of constant tension. "The Iceman" is outstanding and powerful film making, and if there is justice out there, Shannon should at least get his due for a masterful job.
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Great subject, very disappointing movie
MediaboyMusings9 October 2012
The Iceman is based on the life of Richard Kuklinski, who is thought to have murdered somewhere between 100 and 250 people from the 50s through the 80s (authorities suspect there were many more slayings than the roughly 100 he confessed to). Most of those occurred while he worked as a contract killer for various New York and New Jersey crime families, but Kuklinski also admits to numerous killings outside of his hit-man duties. His story gained a wider audience with a couple of HBO documentaries in 1992 and 2002, respectively, where Kuklinski recalled his crimes while demonstrating a disturbing lack of remorse for committing them (he died in prison in 2006 while serving the five consecutive life sentences that were handed down in 1988).

Playing Kuklinski is Michael Shannon, probably best known for his work on HBO's Boardwalk Empire and the films Take Shelter and Revolutionary Road. The interesting cast directed by Ariel Vroman includes Winona Ryder as Kuklinski's wife, Deborah, Ray Liotta and Robert Davi in familiar mobster roles, David Schwimmer playing one of their flunkies, Chris Evans as another contract killer, and James Franco and Stephen Dorff in brief one-scene roles (Franco was originally supposed to play Evans' part until a scheduling conflict arose).

The middle years of Kuklinski's life make up the majority of the film, starting in the late 60s where we briefly see him courting and marrying Deborah, while hiding from her his dominant dark side and the fact that he works as a porn bootlegger. That job provides a springboard into the organized crime world, where Kuklinski soon finds himself working for Liotta's Gambino crime family-affiliated character and carrying out thuggish duties that include contract killings. Eventually, Kuklinski finds whacking employment with other upper-level east coast crime organizations, telling Deborah, their three kids, friends, and neighbours that he works in the world of finance. At this point, we're well into the 70s, meaning a number of the actors are sporting some serious porn 'stache facial hair. I had a flashback to my Cloud Atlas screening the day before, where some of the heavily made-up actors were virtually unrecognizable. In this case, Evans was on screen for several minutes before I realized it was him underneath the handlebar moustache, long hair, and glasses, looking radically different from his clean-cut Captain America character. His wisecracking Robert character is probably the best thing about The Iceman, which isn't a good thing when you consider that the role is relatively minor. The dancing scene involving him and Kuklinski, where the latter takes out their target with poison on a crowded disco floor while Blondie's "Heart Of Glass" pumps over the soundtrack, has a twistedly dark humour to it.

The stark duality of Kuklinski's life as both family man and sociopath is one of his most interesting aspects, but the film fails to exploit this angle to its full potential. His modus operandi involved the unusual habit of employing various killing methods, like poisonings, explosives, strangulations, and the usage of assorted kinds of weapons, plus temporarily freezing many of his victims (hence the nickname) to confound the police as to their times of death, if the bodies were ever found. It's another pretty fascinating nugget for the film to work with, but The Iceman comes up short once again in terms of creatively exploring this potentially rich plot point.

Shannon is a fantastic actor who excels at playing complex, troubled characters, as anyone who has seen his work in any of the aforementioned projects can attest to (I'll also throw in his memorable turn in The Runaways as Kim Fowley, that band's creepy svengali-ish manager). The actor can't rise above the too well-trodden crime movie territory that The Iceman inhabits, however, resulting in a hollow effort that feels like a shamefully wasted opportunity. Of the ten films I saw at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, The Iceman easily ranks as my biggest disappointment.
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Netflix Movie Review: The Iceman
Phillip Tomasso III2 December 2013
The Iceman is a 2012 film by director, Ariel Vromen. It is a 105 minutes of nothing but tension and suspense. Based on the true story of Richie Kuklinski (portrayed by Michael Shannon), a polish hit-man contracted by the Mafia. In his career it is said that Kuklinski killed over 100 people for the mob.

It showcases a great cast. To me, unrecognizable, is Winona Ryder (who portrays Deborah, Kuklinski's wife), Ray Liotta (mob boss Roy DaMeo), Chris Evans as Mr. Freeze, and get this ... David Schwimmer from Friends (Ross) as Josh Rosenthal.

Dubbing porno films for a living, Kuklinski meets Deborah, and begins their relationship on a lie, claiming to dub animated films for Disney. A man of few words, once he is married the porno business comes to an end. Roy DaMeo likes Kuklinski's cool, calm and fearless attitude. He hires him to do mob hits. The condition is Kuklinski is only to work for Roy.

As in any organized crime syndicate, times are not always lucrative. In an attempt to continue to support is wife and daughters, Kuklinski teams up with Mr. Freeze taking on hits as a contractor. Once Roy finds out, things spin quickly out of control.

The story plot is not much more complex than. It is a movie about a hit- man. Double crossings, mistrust and paranoia. The Iceman, Richard Kuklinski, made a name for himself in the '70's.

Rated R for obvious reasons, the movie is filled with violent deaths, disassembled bodies and some bad language and nudity. The acting was outstanding. I felt that Shannon did an exceptional job. And I will state again, I did not recognize Ryder at all. She doesn't look old, but neither does she look like herself. Maybe it's just me. Schwimmer will always be Ross, even if he wears a ponytail. His drug sales are almost humorous in this film, because I couldn't help anticipating the arrival of Joey and Chandler. Can you say, Typecast?

But I digress -- so let me get to it. I give the Iceman 9 out of 10 Stars!

Zombie Author, Phillip Tomasso
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One of the best movies I've seen in a while.
lasooannie20 September 2013
I discovered this movie while watching another. The preview of The Iceman was screened on a DVD that I had rented and the preview certainly made me sit up and pay attention. I thought to myself "I must see this" so a week later I rented The Iceman and was certainly impressed. This movie is one of the best I've seen in a long time.

I'd never heard of Richard Kuklinski before, but his story was very intriguing. Michael Shannon's performance of Kuklinski is Oscar worthy. The cold, icy demeanour that he displays when around his victims and criminal associates makes you forget that he is an actor just playing a role. Shannon steals pretty much every scene that he is in even when he is in the presence of veterans like Liotta. Winona Ryder's performance is also very good and could possibly earn her an Oscar nod.

This movie had me riveted from start to finish. If you are looking for a good drama to sink your teeth into, I can definitely recommend "The Iceman".
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Strong movie totally focused on single character
Bene Cumb8 September 2013
Michael Shannon is one of the character actors catchy to watch even then when the topic or method of depiction is not your matter of taste. In the few of them I have seen, his presences provided additional value and, moreover, it is hard to forget his expressive face and height. In The Iceman, Shannon's performance of notorious Mafia hit-man Richard Kuklinski is catchy again: depiction of a man with many faces, including cruel and caring, is not easy, and his character is continuously on screen during the 1 hour 40 minutes. True, the cast is evenly strong, supporting performances by Ray Liotta as Roy DeMeo, Winona Ryder as Deborah Kuklinski, Robert Davi as Leonard Marks, Stephen Dorff as Joseph Kuklinski are memorable as well, although their appearance on screen is rather limited.

As for the plot, I have read that many viewers find it unrealistic. But in the pre-Internet era, when even a pager was advanced technical widget and the use of phone booths was wide, was much easier to live double life and much harder to catch those the authorities suspected. Well, present-day people used to Google and cams may have difficulties to comprehend this... The only thing I would have like to see more how the plans to capture Kuklinski were made and how they found out about all his past - thus the part of the police and ATF could have been bigger.

Recommended to all who like movies dealing with actual villains. As for Shannon, I will search others movies with his presence I am not aware of.
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Well done, but disappointing
AaronHickory8 September 2013
The Iceman is a great film overall, with very skillful "execution" in most categories. Unfortunately, if you know anything about the real Richard Kuklinksi, you may find yourself disappointed. I saw both parts of the HBO documentary, The Iceman Tapes, and because of that extra knowledge it left me wanting after the film ended. The main flaw here was that they didn't depict what a truly sick bastard this man was. Such disturbing anecdotes that were described in the documentary, such as a day when Mr. Kuklinski decided to test out a crossbow on a random citizen's face "just to see what happened," and a time when he let a man be eaten alive by rats, filmed it, and watched it later, were not depicted. I still found this movie to be worth watching, and deserving of high marks, but if you know anything about the true story, don't go in with unreasonable expectations.
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THE ICEMAN, Incredible Biography and Crime Movie
Valon Haliti4 September 2013
Such a good acting and storyline, personally this is ma favorite crime movie of 2012-13. I can't understand why this movie has a very low rating here at IMDb. I think it's the most underrated movie of 2013, anyways people know their choices. Some people who have read the book, says that the book is better than the movie but I haven't red the book so, I don't know about the book, but the movie is definitely worth watching. Chris Evans was very very good at this movie, I didn't expect him to do such a good acting at a movie like this. The main role Michael Shannon was good to. What I loved about this movie is the music too. But overall was complete awesome.
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Very disappointing
dannydec10 June 2013
I've read the book which was out standing, I also saw the 3 interviews on HBO which were absolutely amazing, however the movie was a complete let down.

It didn't really show how bad kuklinski's father treated him as a kid by continuously beating him.

It didn't show how he was continuously beaten as kid by the local bully, until his father made him fight back.

It didn't show you how he left his victims to be eaten by rats because his contractors wanted them to suffer.

It didn't show you that he used to kill tramps regularly to improve his killing techniques.

It didn't show when he shot a guy in the face trying out his new toy..A crossbow.

It also didn't show the notorious clicking sound he made when he was getting angry.

All in all it was a very poorly thought out movie
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A poor adaptation
sfoulk52612 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I'm sorry, but this was an awful, awful adaptation. I read the book by Phillip Carlo, and it was an incredible wealth of information about Richard Kuklinski, probably too much to place in one movie, but this movie barely touched the true Richard Kuklinski's story.

As a writer, I expected something more in the line of a Goodfellas, or Godfather movie, because the book is that interesting and complex. I expected more because the story and material was completely available, and then some. Not only Kuklinski, but his father, mother, and younger life were missing, the making of the killer, his first kill, the large amounts of money he made and spent, his travels abroad and around the US, and his methods for evading detection for so many years. And so much more I can't even think about.

Now maybe this movie was too violent for the general public. So why make it if it's not going to be accurate (it is vague at best)? Go make damn Disney movies instead.

What a loss for the movie viewing public. It should have been a great!

I don't suppose Scorsese would consider doing a version of this biography...
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Horrible movie!
collytum0716 September 2013
My interest in 'The Iceman' came from watching the prison interviews he did in a documentary by HBO. I then decided to buy the book based on his life and found that although parts may have been fictionalised, it was a brilliant read. And finally to the movie. If you have read the book by Phillip Carlo, then don't watch this movie. The Acting in itself throughout the movie is not bad, but way in which the movie is laid out is potentially the worst I have ever seen. There is no character development, no real plot, the story told through out the movie jumps from one scene to another without any explanation as to who the new characters are and why they are suddenly in the story. Everything feels so rushed. Its as if the director has read the book, and couldn't decide which parts to focus on, so decided he would just focus on the main murders which kluklinski was responsible for. Why not make the movie a 3.5 hr casino type movie where the plot can be built upon and not rushed? At least then, we could have seen the early days of Richard, the reasons for him turning out the way he did etc. The movie as I suspected was a let down, but a lot bigger let down than i ever foreseen.

Word of advice, don't watch this.
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