With his chiseled-from-granite brow and harrowing, coiled-spring intensity, Michael Shannon is one of those actors who can make just about any movie interesting. And he has his work cut out for him in The Iceman, this true-life story of infamous New Jersey contract killer Richard Kuklinski. Nicknamed the Iceman for his cold-blooded amorality and his habit of freezing his victims, Kuklinski murdered over 100 people. To him, it was just work, like being a baker… or, more aptly, a butcher. What made him more than just another sociopathic Mob goon, though, was his double life. When he wasn’t dealing death, he was a devoted family man wearing Ward Cleaver cardigans and living in suburbia with his wife (Winona Ryder) and two children, who thought he was a currency trader. This is barely enough to hang a movie on, so director Ariel Vromen tries to distract us with a cavalcade of stars like Chris Evans, David Schwimmer, James Franco, and Stephen Dorff, all decked out in bad ’70s wigs and porn-set mustaches. Ray Liotta (as Kuklinski’s hotheaded Mafia boss) and Robert Davi (whose scary, pockmarked face belongs on a B-movie Mount Rushmore) fare the best, giving the episodic movie some much-needed menace. But ultimately, this is a grim (both visually and thematically) character study of an unsympathetic character, leaving Shannon, who manages to deliver another impressive performance, twisting in the ice-cold wind. B-
COLD AS 'ICE' Michael Shannon and Winona Ryder co-star in The Iceman (Anne Marie Fox)
Genre: Mystery and Thriller; Starring: Chris Evans, Winona Ryder, Michael Shannon; Director: Ariel Vromen; Runtime (in minutes): 105; MPAA Rating: R; Distributor: Millennium
Posted May 9 2013 — 12:00 AM EDT
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