THE ICEMAN—-actresses like Laura Linney or Lili Taylor are frequently referred to as Queen of the Indies, since they’ve brightened so many small-scale pictures. Why not go ahead and give the great Michael Shannon the King crown, given his stellar work in gems like Bug, Take Shelter and this deadly-serious story of Richard Kuklinski, a mob hit man who cold-bloodedly (as in c-o-l-d ) dealt out more than 125 murders over a quarter century, all while being a devoted husband and loving father. *
Directed & co-written by Ariel Vromen, the 2012 chiller runs taut at 106 minutes, with good support for the decidedly offbeat leading man from Winona Ryder, James Franco, Ray Liotta and Chris Evans.
The violence (of which there is, as you might expect, quite a lot) is handled matter-of-fact (like it apparently was for real) and isn’t drooled over in gratuitous fashion by the director. In the main, apart from the fascinating awfulness of the guy having such a long streak of ‘success’ in his trade, the reason to watch is the superlative playing of this bizarre human by Shannon, who can embody barely bottled pent-up explosiveness as good as any actor today. Made for $10,000,000, it didn’t catch on enough to bring back more than $4,400,000. With David Schwimmer (asking for it), Stephen Dorff, Erin Cummings, Weronika Rossati, John Ventimiglia and Robert Davi.
* Well, devoted and loving in the script, as it seems the real guy was not all that nice to anyone, including family. The screenplay leaves out a lot of unsavory detail. That’s where Reading comes into play (see:books, reading of).