When I first saw the interviews with Richard Kuklinski released under the name “The Iceman: Confessions of a Mafia Hitman,” I was struck by the fact that the killer worked hard to depict himself as a cold-blooded professional when it was obvious he was, in fact, a rage-filled psychopath wracked with hellish inner agony. That insight, in fact, went into my creation of the Shadowman, the hit man in my Weiss and Bishop trilogy of detective novels.
One of the many things I really liked about this fictionalized film of Kuklinski’s story, The Iceman, is that the excellent Michael Shannon depicts Kuklinski exactly so: as a man who is motivated by an anger so tormenting he can’t even allow himself to feel it.
It’s Shannon and the rest of the fantastic cast that make this movie tick. The perfect Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, my outrageously talented pal Robert Davi, David Schwimmer, and even James Franco in a cameo — they’re all not only spectacular but weirdly fun to watch in what otherwise might have been a somewhat grim and plodding story. It’s not that the script is bad, it’s just that the story doesn’t have that many different or original places to go so it depends on its actors to create fascinating characters of depth, complexity and even humor in a very small space.
If you enjoy gritty crime drama, this is the stuff. Not a classic by any means, but a nice, solid addition to the genre.