05/10/2013 09:30 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Popcorn Preview: The Iceman

Film: The Iceman (2012)
Cast includes: Michael Shannon (Mud), Winona Ryder (Girl, Interrupted), Chris Evans (The Avengers), Ray Liotta (Goodfellas), David Schwimmer (Friends)
Director: Ariel Vromen (Danika)
Genre: Drama | Crime | Thriller (106 minutes)

"Mr. Kuklinski, Do you have any regrets for the things you've done?" Richard Kuklinski is obviously a broken man, but his face is still impassive. Based on a true story, the film takes us back to New Jersey 1964. "It's not very polite. If you invite me to dinner, you should have something to say," says Deborah. "You're a pretty version of..." Richie looses his nerve. "Most people I meet don't have nothing to say," he tells her. "Natalie Wood... pretty version of Natalie Wood." Deborah is starting to like the awkward but persistent man across the table. She's glad he wants to call again. At the pool hall, Richie sets a punk straight about Deborah... "She's my future wife." "Good luck getting your dick in her," the punk sneers. Richie's face is unreadable, but when he takes a knife and slits the punk's throat, actions speak louder than words. Richie walks away as if nothing happened.

The day his daughter is born is the happiest day of his life. But Richie's still working at the porn film lab, and a run-in with Roy Demeo nearly brings his life to an untimely end. Richie doesn't beg for mercy... he calmly suggests that working through the night will let him finish Demeo's order. Roy decides to let him live. When Richie gets home, he sees that Deborah's been looking at apartment ads in the paper... but she'd be happy anywhere as long as they're together. "You like to be taken care of... nothing wrong with that." Richie would do anything for his wife and baby. When the rest of the porn film has been delivered, Roy wants to see Richie. (It's not a request.) Once again Richie finds himself looking into the barrel of a gun. "Fucking guy's cold as ice," says Roy. Actually, Roy's got a job for Richie, once he passes another test. That bum on the corner... "Put him out of his misery." "Wow, those are big hands. You a lumberjack?" the bum asks. When they share a cigarette... that's when the big man fires three shots. Test passed.

Kuklinski's hit man career is off and running... and he's really good at his job... until 1975, when he leaves a witness. "Hey Polack, clean it up." "I don't kill women and children." But the issue isn't settled. "I'm gonna have to decommission you," says Roy. Kuklinski suddenly finds himself without a job, and that's when things get messy. Michael Shannon as Kuklinski is positively chilling. In fact, this is likely to be the coldest mob killer movie you'll ever see. The film took liberties with some of the actual events, but it creates a fully believable character. There was only one thing Kuklinski ever cared about... his family. Deborah and the girls truly loved him, despite his awkwardness. They never knew what he did for a living until his arrest in 1986. He was the most notorious contract killer in New Jersey history, with over 100 murders. The film paints a picture of a sadistic killer as well as a loving father and husband. But don't expect to learn what made him tick... Kuklinski is an iceman right to the end. When a former colleague pleads for mercy... "Please, God no..." Kuklinski tells him, "Pray harder. I'm not feeling anything."

3 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
The story of New Jersey's most notorious contract killer

Popcorn Profile
Rated: R (Language, violence, crime, drugs)
Audience: Young adults
Distribution: Mainstream wide release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Zips right along
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Character Development: Engaging
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Pure entertainment & Informative

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