Roy Demeo: You want to complain about life? You’re talking to the wrong fucking guy.
I’ve met Michael Shannon before. He is a friendly fellow but he is just as menacing to meet as one would expect from his ominous presence on screen. And while I wonder when the day might come when we might see Shannon in a comedy or as a romantic lead, for now we can all admire his ferocity in the many tough guy parts that get thrown his way. The latest is Ariel Vroman’s THE ICEMAN, a biopic of one of the most notorious contract killers in American history, Richard Kuklinski. See if you can guess who plays the lead.
Kuklinski is said to have murdered between 100 and 250 people between the years of 1948 and 1986. Somehow, amidst all that murderous mayhem, Kuklinski found the time to marry and have two daughters as well. Vroman’s film covers this entire period, from the moment he goes out on his first date with the future mother of his children (Winona Ryder is a surprisingly impressive turn), through his time as an independent murderer for hire, to his inevitable capture and conviction. Shannon bounces back and forth between family man and maniacal murderer with an eerie ease that eludes to only one of the reasons Kuklinski earned his Iceman moniker. The other is that he froze his victims for months before disposing of the bodies so that no time of death could be accurately determined.
In many ways, and I mean this with all due respect, Shannon was born to play this part. He is as callous and as icy as he would have to be to pull this off. His powerhouse performance helps THE ICEMAN reach terrifying heights it most certainly would not have, if it weren’t for Shannon’s presence. The lean script rolls through the decades of killing as though they meant nothing to anyone and subsequently, the film is just as frigid as the subject matter. And as disturbing as all this coldness is, a little bit of warmth would have given the character insight necessary to take this film from disconcerting to downright harrowing.