If Michael Shannon (“Revolutionary Road”, “Take Shelter”) has not registered on your film Richter scale, “The Iceman” should pole-vault him into the upper echelons; his brooding, intimidating intensity; lethal, black gaze nails the conscienceless killer “Richie Kuklinski” (1935-2006); Shannon is riveting in conveying a man whose decency was robbed by a father who beat and annihilated his moral compass. Yet a sliver of the humane lurks beneath his villainous, ferociously angry facade; a pristine devotion and love for his wife “Deborah” ( a youthful and tender performance by Winona Ryder) and two beautiful daughters.
Director Ariel Vromen used “The Iceman Tapes” as his primary source of interpretation for “Richie” a maniacal “killer for hire” living a dual existence in New Jersey. Flawlessly structured and imbued with exhilarating performances by supporting actors: Ray Liotta; a barely recognizable David Schwimmer; Stephen Dorff. A mini, memorable moment of screen time: James Franco’s character “Marty” is allowed to pray as Richie waits for a god-intervention; ludicrously ironic, resonating with complexity; Richie sends his daughters to parochial school.
Watching Shannon, I was reminded of Marlon Brando’s assiduous dedication to “method acting”; unlike Brando, Shannon never mumbles; he is frighteningly inexorable, undeterred in his murderess missions; never doubting, never wavering Shannon’s forceful, brilliant depiction of Richie Kuklinski is gripping, immensely compelling and worthy of the highest accolades.