The Iceman DVD Review

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Michael Shannon in the last 7 years has become the most exciting actor of his generation since the glory days of Pacino and De Niro. He is however a very different actor to those he isn’t a method actor as far as I know. He started out in the well-revered Steppenwolf theatre company, which Gary Sinise started back in the mid 70s and has it’s troupe has included people Sam Shepard (which was one of his co-stars in the recent Mud), John Malkovich among many others.

Shannon really caught my attention in the truly stunning William Friedkin adaptation of Tracy Lett’s play Bug in the role he originated on stage. It was a truly horrifying performance of a man who has truly lost his mind. Shannon has since become one of the most in demand actors in the film industry. He has been nominated for an Oscar, he plays Nelson Van Alden in the wonderful Boardwalk Empire on HBO, played Zod in new Superman and Kim Fowley in The Runaways, worked with Werner Herzog twice among other great directors.

Shannon however really caught everyone’s attention in the great Take Shelter in 2011, which was a much calmer version of his performance in Bug without the self-mutilation. I slightly underrated Take Shelter when I first saw it but it’s one of the most haunting films of recent memory. Jeff Nichols who is one of his most frequent collaborators directed it.

So in a long way of putting it Shannon has blown up in the last few years which how we get to the latest film The Iceman. It’s a film that boasts its “Goodfellas meets Zodiac” which is like saying it’s the fucking Mona Lisa of crime films over many decades. The Guardian’s premiere middle class fucktard Peter Bradshaw said that during the 2012 festival circuit. I’m sure the film mafia paid him to say that or they would whack him, I would have preferred the mob hit had taken place.

The film has a lot more in common with that exceptional film from that master of crime filmmaking Martin Scorsese. Shannon stars as Richard Kuklinski who is a really messed up individual whose brother is in prison for murdering a teenage girl. He is trying to live that all American life with his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and 2 daughters. Kuklinski however is a hitman for the Mob who is nicknamed The Iceman because of his emotion less persona. It’s based all on a true guy who according to the film killed over 100 people but in the film’s press release it contradicts that and claims 200 but in short he killed a lot of people

The film is very stylist and each era for the most part is very well represented in the art and costume direction. It doesn’t however have the masterfulness of those 2 films. It’s at times very clumsily put together and sometimes needlessly confusing due to pointless non-linear which is only there due to budget constraints. The reason Goodfellas and Zodiac are modern masterpieces is those films really take time with the characters and really care for them even in the case of Goodfellas where the main character is a total scumbag. The Iceman is only 90 minutes when in reality it really needed a 2 and a half hour running to really get under the character’s skin.

The film’s saving grace is really Michael Shannon who is perfectly cast as the emotion free hit man. Winona Ryder is sadly wasted for the most part as his clueless wife and how old is she suppose to be in the start? Early 20s? She is like a 40+ year old woman. It has a hilarious performance David Schwimmer who is rocking the David Seaman tash and ponytail. James Franco shows up for a really amusing cameo and Chris Evans plays an ice cream man who Kuklinski eventually teams up with. Ray Liotta plays the main mob boss, which is of course a knowing nod to his brilliant lead performance in the aforementioned Goodfellas. It’s nice Ray Liotta has been making better role choices recently.

Overall The Iceman is a good lonely Friday night watching which lacks many of the real substance of the films it has been compared too. The film seems to have disappeared from the cinema as soon as it appeared but it’s worth a watch but don’t expect overall greatness.

3.5/5 Stars

Ian Schultz

Rating: 18
DVD/BD Release Date: 30th September 2013 (UK)
Director: Ariel Vromen
Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, James Franco, David Schwimmer, Ray Liotta
Buy The Iceman: DVD / Blu-ray