Tuesday, 16 April 2013


You rest your entire film's success on one man's story, and you had better hope that his story is worth the effort. You rest your entire film's success on Michael Shannon, and you're off to a good start. Shannon has been down this road before, sure, but The Iceman is so reliant on and transfixed by him that the few scenes without him dry up in an instant. He carries this flabby film from start to finish, with a performance that is as familiar as it is brilliant, which is to say that he phones it in, but that Michael Shannon phoning it in is worth a hundred other actors' best efforts. As this is factual account, the filmmakers insist on chronicling every important development in the adult life of this Richard Kuklinski, a contract killer unremarkable beside his emotional detachment and the fact that he got caught rather than killed. Whether or not these characters were more interesting specimens in reality, I can't tell, but on film they are portrayed as carbon copies of genre tropes, from the snivelling friends to the clueless family to Ray Liotta - you always know where you are when Ray Liotta turns up, and that's rarely far from the bottom of the barrel. Ariel Vromen kills time, literally, by skipping through the years with nonchalance, as Shannon's facial hair changes and Winona Ryder ages not a day, although that's one real-life detail they got right. James Franco turns up for a cameo, because that's what wild-card virtuoso intelligentsia types do in low budget genre movies like this.