As he is about to shoot one of his victims, Richard Kuklinski hears the man muttering a prayer, and gives him time to pray properly so that god may come down and stop what is going to happen. The victim, clearly out of luck, prays fervently and gets shot in the head, the last words that enter his ears being, “God is busy.” It’s this atheistic undertone of The Iceman that I like, and I was as pleased to hear Deborah (Winona Ryder) tell her husband, “You wanted to to send them to Catholic school”, when he doesn’t have firm answers to the questions their daughters ask about god.
The Iceman stays true to the story of Richard Kuklinski, a porn-dubbing-editor-turned-hitman responsible for 100-150 murders, and slides with ease across decades, showing Richie’s (Michael Shannon) rise and fall, and it would have made for a more interesting watch had Richard Kuklinski been a more interesting character. Michael Shannon cuts an imposing figure as the grim contract killer who feels no remorse at all, but cares deeply about his family. His wife and two daughters mean everything to him, and they’re the only ones who mean anything to him, and all he regrets in the end (when he’s in jail, sentenced to two life terms) is lying through his teeth to them.
Intense as it is, The Iceman isn’t worth another watch, unless you’re fascinated by Richard Kuklinski or want to hear Ray Liotta say ‘fuck’ several times. The movie broods nicely but you don’t feel for any of the characters, and maybe you shouldn’t feel anything for a cold-blooded killer, which makes me wonder how this film got its name, because freezing the bodies of the slain is what another killer does, and Richie only continues it and only for a brief while. The title led me to think the flick was about a psychopath. Oh, well.