Michael Shannon is one of the actors that can make any character interesting. The Iceman is something tailor-made for him. The movie is about the true story of infamous New Jersey contract killer Richard Kuklinski.
Kuklinski is known as The Iceman because of his cold-blooded amorality as well as his habit of freezing his victims. He has no conscience and has killed more than 100 people in his lifetime. To the Iceman, it was just work, just like being a butcher. When he is not killing people, he is a devoted family man who lives with his wife (Winona Ryder) and their two kids. They think that he is a currency trader.
The heart of the movie is the contrast between an assassin who has no remorse and a family man who only wants to take care of his family. Filmmaker Vromen said that it is something people can identify with. What makes Kuklinski different is that he so brutal that it is hard to believe that he really cares about his family. The Iceman doesn’t focus much on scenes of Kuklinski with his family. This is why the central theme doesn’t get off the ground.
Another underdeveloped theme of The Iceman is that of religion and fate. Early in the movie, Kuklinski tells his future wife that he doesn’t believe in chance. He only becomes a contract killer when Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) sees how Kuklinski reacts when attacked by a gangster. He closes down Kuklinski’s porn editing studio and gives him the choice between being jobless or becoming a killer.
To keep people distracted, director Ariel Vromen brings in various stars such as Chris Evans, James Franco, David Schwimmer and Stephen Dorff who are all seen wearing 70s hairstyle and mustaches. Ray Liotta plays Kuklinski’s mafia boss.
The Iceman is a grim study of an unsympathetic character. Shannon gives an excellent performance that makes The Iceman twistedly delightful.