Twitter Plot Summary: Not a spin-off superhero movie, but a tale about Richard Kuklinski, contract killer and family man. He kills people and loves his family…
Director: Ariel Vromen
Key Cast: Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Robert Davi.
Tagline: Loving husband. Devoted father. Ruthless killer.
Five Point Summary:
1. Ray Liotta’s on a role. Intense.
2. Look it’s James Franco! Maybe he’ll… oh, maybe not.
3. David Schwimmer’s moustache is mesmerising.
4. Robert Davi. Legend.
5. Emote, man! EMOTE!
Based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, aka The Polack, aka The Iceman, over a period of 20-odd years he was responsible for the deaths of at least 100 people, the “Iceman” moniker a result of him deep-freezing his victims to both disguise when the murder took place and to safely dispose of the bodies weeks or months after the fact.
Before anyone asks, yes that is Ross from Friends sporting a funky 70s tache. It’s yet another example of me seeing a film, vaguely recognising an actor and then spending 15-20 minutes trying to figure out who they are. No such problems with recognising Robert Davi. The man is a legend and it’s always a genuine pleasure to see him appear in anything. Except maybe my flat, late at night, while I’m asleep. That would be weird. Ray Liotta appears to be undergoing a bit of a renaissance lately. He put in a stellar performance in The Place Beyond The Pines and it’s no different here. His crime boss Roy is loyal to his troops but at the same time doesn’t suffer fools gladly. You know just from the way Liotta holds himself that to cross him would be a very, very bad idea. Keep it up Ray, you’re doing a fine job.
Michael Shannon puts in a typically intense performance, but based on a number of interviews I’ve heard with him I get the impression he’s like that most of the time. Not an easy person to interview, it seems. He’s excellent in the lead role though, even if he’s emotionally detached for most of the time. He even sports an incredible number of moustaches and sideburns. From what I understand of the real life Kuklinski, he liked to change his appearance now and again in order to draw less attention to himself. I don’t know how that applied in real life, but in the film you can still tell it’s Michael Shannon. Sorry bub.
Chris Evans appears to be the one having the most fun with the script, dialing down his Johnny Storm persona from Fantastic Four into a bearded, long-haired contract killer with an ice cream truck. In fact, wouldn’t that be a better film – following Mr Freezy around as he sells ice cream to kids and bumps people off in the background? Maybe turn it into one of those wacky family films and give him a wisecracking son/daughter who’s actually running their contract killer operation. I’d pay good money (and maybe even bad money) to see that.
Winona Ryder, no disrespect to her as she’s actually a good actor (well, adequate. Mostly.), comes across as being totally smacked off her face on drugs. Either that or incredibly stupid. Maybe that’s where they were coming from with her character, but the sole purpose for her existence appears to be to make doe-eyes at Michael Shannon and then shuffle around like a little mouse whenever he kicks off. For a family man, Mr Kuklinski is apparently an advocate of treat them mean to keep them keen, either deliberately or inadvertently. A flattering portrayal of women this is not.
The hits are well done for the most part, although the sheer number of them starts to grate towards the end. Okay, so most contract killings would likely follow a set style depending on the killer’s methods (I’ve never killed anyone so I wouldn’t know), but mixing it up a little would have helped. The nightclub scene is perhaps the most original death in the film, but it’s over before you’ve had time to absorb it. Hah, I made a funny (watch the film, this will make sense, kind of).
I have two gripes about the film. The first is that I get the impression we’re supposed to be sympathetic towards Shannon’s character. Much like After Earth, if the character barely emotes other than to, on occasion, release his pent-up anger and frustrations then as an audience we’re going to find it extremely difficult to connect to him on any level. Unless you’re also a sadistic contract killer, of course. The second is with regards to the ending. Yes, it reaches its natural conclusion and yes it resolve the story, but I thought the end came out of nowhere. Not that it was surprising or anything like that, it just finished – there wasn’t any indication that it was building up to a resolution. I’ve given it some thought and I’ve honestly no clue how they would go about resolving that issue without rewriting history, so I guess it will have to do as it is. Unless we add an alien invasion into the mix. Now that’s be a twist…
Favourite scene: Shannon making James Franco pray. Cold and sinister.
Quote: “You a family man now? Who you kiddin’?”
Silly Moment: David Schwimmer’s ponytail.