The Iceman is currently available on instant Netflix
The Iceman (2013) – Rated R
“This thriller based on a true story follows Richard Kuklinski, who killed more than 100 people for the mob — and his own pleasure — between 1964 and 1986. Despite his prolific violence, Kuklinski was a devoted husband and father of two daughters.”
One Line Review: True life biography skims details and distorts facts – meh.
I wanted to like The Iceman and there is much to like about it. The filmmakers obviously enjoyed using period outfits, hairstyles, and, to a lesser extent, set design. The cast and acting are pretty good.
David Schwimmer does a good job as perpetual screw-up Josh Rosenthal. Michael Shannon is fine as the titular Iceman, Richard Kuklinski, though the role is hardly an acting stretch. Winona Ryder captures the mousy nature of his wife. Chris Evans is unrecognizable as Mr. Freezy, another killer. Ray Liotta, Robert Davi, and James Franco all pop up to varying degrees but each has already played their role many times before.
The problem with The Iceman is that it tries to fit in too many scenarios so they are all thinly sketched out. It’s hard to have any kind of sympathy for any of the characters. Admittedly the movie is trying to cover over a score of years during which Kuklinski supposedly killed over a hundred men. In addition to the many underwritten scenes, director Ariel Vromen throws in many single shots of victims a la a montage, although not strung together.
The ‘hitting the highlights’ approach would work better if Vromen and the screenwriters hadn’t taken so many liberties with the actual story. I understand changing the wife’s name (avoiding being sued by the wife or heirs) and changing Mr. Softee’s name to Mr. Freezy (avoiding lawsuit from ice cream brand) but so many particulars are changed. Obviously with this being the story of Kuklinski, he is given credit for just about all of the murders that take place. The most egregious liberty is that a socipath like Kuklinski loved and treasured his family when in reality, he beat his wife whenever he lost his temper.
The writers even wrap up the movie with an insinuation that a particular person was murdered in prison – certainly a possibility but why after being incarcerated for over 18 years?
Hilarious Mistake: Pause the scene where Kuklinski and Mr. Freezy look at a headline of The Iceman killer. The person killed in the newspaper article is a character that hasn’t died yet (though admittedly is not long for this world).