Posted on 9/11/12 10:33 AM
The Iceman proves itself to be a worthy contender in the category of modern day thrillers, especially due to its artistic flair. The cool tones that wrap this movie up, ranging from olive greens, steel blues and autumn leaf browns, leave a warm sensation around the main character, Richard Kuklinski, who is anything but. Many thrillers try to be a little too slick both in story telling, editing and even cinematography, so it feels too artificial. The Iceman, however, feels like there was a lot of hard work put into it, and through that it feels much more humanistic. I was reminded a lot of Road To Perdition, actually, with The Iceman's pastel colours and well placed shots. Ariel Vromen successfully takes you back to a few decades ago with ease, and it wasn't just because of the feel of the movie.
The acting for the most part ranged from good to phenomenal, and the latter is mostly in part due to Michael Shannon's unflinching performance as an explosive serial killer who cares about very little in life. If anything, the movie is worth seeing just for him, but thankfully there is more to the movie than him. However, make no mistake, Michael Shannon is slowly paving his way to become one of the more important actors of our time, and with The Iceman, he channels the great mob movies of the past through minimalism and necessary explosion. Many actors could have failed to achieve the sense of feeling emotionless through nothing more than under acting or even not acting at all, but Shannon proves that you can always pick up something no matter what character you play. Most of the other actors do a good job as well, ranging from Winona Ryder's great attempt to slowly sneak her way back into the hearts of critics and movie goers, Ray Liotta doing what he does best and being an intimidating jerk with an iron fist, and a surprisingly great performance by Chris Evans who may not have stepped so far outside of his usual self until now.
The directing for the most part was outstanding, as almost every mood and emotion used was the right one, and almost every line spoken, no matter by whom, was spoken with the right accent, the right tone and the right feel. The movie had a nice, consistent tone that shimmered at all times, reminding us just what kind of a movie The Iceman truly is. Like Kuklinski and those he works with, however, the film, surprisingly with a lot of heart put into it, may have had a bit too much heart at times.
What I mean by this is that, while it is fantastic that a thriller is based so heavily on emotions and on a well paced feeling throughout, it may be based on it a bit too much. It ends a bit too quickly than it should, as if it couldn't hang onto itself and simply said "You want what you waited for? Here!", something the main character may have done with his short temper. Instead of lagging out the scenes, a few more flash backs could have been placed to keep it a relevant theme and to help the film stay on course just a little bit more. You only see one five second glimpse at Kuklinski's child hood, and while we got the message instantly just through this, maybe a little more insight could have helped the film a bit more. We're told and barely shown why Kuklinski is so lifeless, but a little bit more information could have made the climax of the film instantly more heart pounding.
Also, despite him trying his hardest and somehow not doing a bad job, it is just really awkward seeing David Schwimmer in this kind of a film. A number of us would laugh in the film every time he was even on screen just because of how out of place he seemed. Definitely a bizarre casting choice, and because the film had its own really smart and quick comic relief, particularly done by Kuklinski, even if Schwimmer was just there to lighten the mood just by sitting there, he wasn't needed. Still, he tried his hardest and still did an alright job, but it's still noteworthy when someone or something takes you out of the film in a bad way.
Overall, The Iceman is a pretty good thriller. It may not rank amongst the best of the best in its genre, but it does well as a modern day thriller thanks to its believability (for the most part) and its attention to detail. Had it had a little bit of patience with itself and let Shannon do all of the short tempered exploding rather than itself, the film may have escalated itself to the grande film it set out to be. While I wouldn't say it falls short or end abruptly, it just needed some fine tuning here and there. Shannon's performance is not to be missed, however, even until the very second where the movie is given a last minute second wind right at its final seconds, reminding you that, hey, acting can be so powerful that you may feel sympathetic for a guy who has boasted about killing over a hundred people. The Iceman should be seen for Shannon, for Ryder and Liotta finally having biggish roles that are well done, for Evans breaking out of his shell, and for a look into Vromen's possible future as an auteur film maker.
Final Rating: 7.7/10