When contract killer Richard Kuklinski was arrested in 1986 for the many murders he committed, his family had no inkling of his entirely distasteful employment. As far as they knew, Kuklinski’s earnings came from his ability to recognise and exploit trends in the market.
The always impressive Michael Shannon plays Kuklinski, a man whose outer calm exterior hides his violent and rather dispassionate approach towards killing. We first see this altogether unemotional approach ofKuklinski when he is ordered, as a means of testing his will, by mafia member Roy DeMayo (Ray Liotta) to kill a homeless man on the street. Kuklinski does so with little, if any thought and is duly hired exclusively byDeMayo to carry out various contract killings.
Later, as DeMayo attempts to smooth issues over with rival gangs, he orders a temporary end to Kuklinski’s employment: Kuklinski, desperate to keep his family in the style that they have become accustomed to, enters into cahoots with fellow contract killer Robert Pronge (an excellent Chris Evans).
The cast is relatively flawless: Shannon has frequently demonstrated his ability to play a character carefully balanced between a socially acceptable exterior with an inner insanity. Chris Evans too, impresses in his detached attitude towards the crimes committed. It’s pleasing to see the return of Winona Ryder, performing well within a fairly one-note role: Ryder is as watchable ever. The film is well-paced, and its story, whilst not entirely engaging enough in its central conceit, is made so by Shannon’s standout performance. Shannon is truly sublime, and his involvement in any project always piques my interest.
Certainly not perfect, and not suitable for those viewers who prefer a protagonist with winning qualities, The Iceman is undeniably a fairly welcome diversion.