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Times of India
Can you ever escape who you really are? The film is a crime biopic on hitman Richard Kuklinski, who adored his family, but didn't regret killing over 100 people, for money, out of anger or just to cover up his own crimes!
The film gives a disturbing account of Kuklinski's life from being a porn distributor to becoming one of the most diabolical contract killers in American history. Since he kept his family in the dark, they continued to live off his blood money until he got arrested in 1986 in an undercover operation. How he led a double life all those years - by playing a doting family man and a cold-blooded killer - is what forms the story.
The Iceman is grim, dark and gritty. A certain sense of paranoia engulfs the proceedings, which helps build the psychological tension. Vromen manages to capture the period setting required. The background score is unsettling and does complete justice to the film's creepy theme. Michael Shannon is outstanding as the devilishly smooth deadpan psychopath, as passionate about the wellbeing of his family as about staring at his victims before he brutally murdered them. He gives a solid performance as the soulless, unsmiling man who solely cared for his family and had no qualms about confessing he felt that way, either.
Shannon arrests your attention and sends shivers down your spine with his impeccable portrayal, especially in scenes where he struggles to hide his inner monster from his family. However, the film becomes sluggish after a while as the script relies heavily on Shannon's acting. The story runs out of steam as you sit through a series of generic mafia wars and killings. The scenes start looking repetitive and events monotonous. Fortunately, it all culminates in a gripping climax.
Winona Ryder as Kuklinski's wife and Ray Liotta are effective. Chris Evans and James Franco make special appearances, making you wonder why they did so! The film works as a documentary.
However, it fails to dramatise the character in order to evoke an audience reaction, which is what is usually expected from crime thrillers.