Feeling Nothing At All:
The first thing that has to be said about the three main principle actors in Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman is that they are all excellent. The next thing to say is that they are all playing roles that they could do in their sleep. Without having read the script. I mean, come on.
Ray Liotta playing a ruthless gangland boss? Not much of a stretch there, would you say? Winona Ryder, playing a slightly older version of the damaged waif? And best of all, lead actor Michael Shannon, the guy that producers phone when they want cold-eyed psychos, is right on form as Richard Kuklinski, the real life contract killer believed to have murdered over 100 people.
Shannon is terrific, as you would expect. He’s scary enough when he’s being detached and indifferent, but when he loses the plot—as happens when he takes off in a car after some hapless sap who has insulted his family—he looks as if he’s going to explode right off the screen. And seeing Michael Shannon throwing a few half-hearted shapes on a disco-dance floor is completely terrifying for all kinds of different reasons.
Chris Evans is also in there, unrecognisable as another hit man who Kuklinski goes into partnership with. Well, unrecognisable, that is, unless Captain America sidelined as a guy who drives an ice-cream van with frozen human popsicles in it. His character is called Mr. Freezy and I certainly hope that the humour of having a man who once played the Human Torch running around like that wasn’t lost on the film makers.
I don’t know anything about Kuklinski, whose story goes from the sixties through to his arrest in 1986, but it seems that in reality he was a regular family guy, his wife and kids not knowing anything about his murderous day job. Certainly he lies to wife-to-be Deborah (Ryder) right from the first scene in 1963. He tells her that he dubs Disney cartoons. Well, only if Disney were secretly putting money into Debbie Does Dallas or Helen Hides the Salami. This was actually my favourite scene, although my interest was nothing to do with setting up character motivation or plot development, neither of which was really very much in evidence for the next couple of hours anyway.
No; I couldn’t take my eyes off Winona Ryder, who has to age around twenty years in the film. Now she is a gorgeous-looking woman in any case; but here, thanks to the wonders of modern technology she looked roughly the same age as she did in Beetlejuice or Heathers.
At least I’m guessing that it was some kind of cinematic trickery, because if it was just down to Pond’s Face Cream then this woman has sold her soul to Satan.
Try though it might, The Iceman is a dreary affair. “I’m not feelin’ nothin’. Nothin at all”, says Kuklinski at one point. I pretty much knew what he meant.
“I never felt sorry for anything that I done, other than hurting my family”. And despite the mesmeric Shannon that’s really as much as we ever know from the script by Morgan Land and Vromen.
Despite the violence, The Iceman comes across with very much the feel of an early TV movie. And I’ve been trying to resist doing this but I can’t. I just can’t.
The Iceman left me cold!