Based on the true story of Richard Kuklinski, “The Iceman” is about a man as devoted to his family as to his job. It just happens that his job is murdering people for money. With his usual brilliance, Michael Shannon (“Take Shelter,” “Revolutionary Road”) manages to find humanity in the monster that is “Richie” Kuklinski. That humanity is what makes him so terrifying. His wife, Deborah (Winona Ryder), and two teenage daughters, Anabel (McKaley Miller) and Betsy (Megan Sherrill), blindly believe that Daddy dubs cartoons for Disney, while dabbling in Wall Street, which explains their nice suburban home and private school education.
In fact, Richard starts out bootlegging porno for crime captain Roy DeMeo (Ray Liotta), who is impressed by his iron-nerved response to a death threat. Enlisting him as a hit man, Roy continues being impressed until he sees a soft spot, when a 17-year-old girl witness is allowed to live.
Ugliness gets embarrassing, when Roy and his henchmen show up at Richard’s house during Anabel’s birthday party. Innocent Betsy wanders outside to a strange car where daddy is sitting with a gun pointing to his head.
This leads to more killings close to the crime lord, resulting in an attempt on Anabel’s life. The number of Richard Kuklinski’s victims ranged between 100 and 250, before he died in prison in 2006. In a jailhouse monologue, Shannon, as the killer, voices his controlled rage, saying that his only regret is hurting his family. Though upset, he says it without a single tear.
It’s truly chilling to be in the presence of a serial killing sociopath. Michael Shannon takes us there.