“The Iceman,” Richard Klukinski (Michael Shannon) was a contract killer for the mob. Legend has it, he’s whacked over 100 people. Based on a true story is the statement that drives this film. New Jersey: 1964. Richard Klukinski is a man living the American reality. He’s just another guy trying to get by on a modest salary. His paths cross with mid-level mobster Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) & suddenly he’s got a new job & a new title: Hitman. This thing turns into Diners & Deathbeds, in a hurry.
Michael Shannon was born to play this guy. When he’s up onscreen, you really can get hypnotized by his intensity. His acting is on point, hitting every single tone. Klukinski’s wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) for the most part accepts the fact the her husband is a good man, who happens to work a white collar job on Wall Street. Ryder adds in layers of doubt about her husband’s career, but never really calls him out on what he’s really up to. I think it’s the best thing Winona Ryder has ever done. Other supporting players include rival assassin, Mr. Freezy (Chris Evans) & low level enforcer, Josh Rosenthal (David Schwimmer).
This movie is an absolute must-see. In lots of period films, I can see beyond the frame & envision set people off to the side holding Starbucks, awkward light rigs, bulky cameras & everything else you’ve seen on a movie set. Director, Ariel Vromen & his production team wove every detail into the fabric of the films. You can see details down to the the lamps, the cars, the wardrobe, the lighting. It’s all right there & never lets the audience think, ‘oh, this is just a movie.’
About two years ago, the young director convinced Michael Shannon to participate in a 1-day screen test. This screen test, unlike many others would be a fully-produced scene. The idea was to film an intense scene & use it as bait to attract money to back the film. Anyone can provide a clip from “The Iceman.” What I’ve got for you is so much better. It’s the actual screen test with Michael Shannon & Michael Wincott. (The Crow, Hitchcock) You’ll know this great actor when you see him in the clip. Let me set it up. Wincott is playing Mr. Freezy, the other hitman that Chris Evans plays in the movie. The pressure of cops & killing is getting to these guys. They are desperate. The dialogue is pretty much word-for-word as you’ll see in “The Iceman.” Wincott & Shannon nail it. Makes me wonder, why didn’t they keep Wincott in the film. “The Iceman” is Rated R. Go see it.
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