Premise: A biopic of Richard "The Iceman" Kuklinski, who was a big time mob hitman in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. He's also a family man, and he likes to keep those two worlds separate. Good luck with that, buddy.
-The biggest draw here is obviously Michael Shannon being the lead actor. I don't want to say he's my favorite actor, but he's certainly the one guy I'm always interested in seeing do basically any role. I don't know what draws me in the most? The bug eyes? The hypnotically strange mouth region? The tendency to fly off the handle at any given time? He kind of phones it in for this movie (which I assume he chose to do in order to buy a yacht or something), and he's still pretty good in it. It's all worth it for shots of Michael Shannon sitting in a chair with a Christmas sweater, smiling creepily. He wasn't even trying to be creepy. Someone should make a book of photography of Michael Shannon doing normal things, but trying his hardest not to be weird. I'd buy it.
-Of course Ray Liotta is in this... I'm not complaining.
-I know it's kind of a product of the bad writing, but people in this movie just kill other people for the smallest, most random things; but it happens so frequently that it was kind of comical. "See that hobo over there. He makes me sad. Kill him."
-On that note, the (several) Iceman "killing people montages" throughout the film are sort of over-the-top/dumb/funny. At one point they just cut to a shot of Michael Shannon strangling a guy on a rooftop in broad daylight with a noose, over his back, like the guy is a backpack. There is no context to how they got on the rooftop or who the guy he's murdering is.
-AMAZING JAMES FRANCO CAMEO.
-That's, uh, quite the impressive array of facial hair prosthetics they put on Michael Shannon's face throughout the movie. He went from clean-cut, to the bushy 70s sideburns, to the dark goatee, to the late 70s Freddie Mercury mustache, to the salt and pepper goatee, to the giant cave man beard of his prison days. And of course, by impressive array I mean hilarious array.
-Starts with the corny shot of the main character in prison getting asked "Do you regret the things you have done?"[FADE TO BLACK] [CUT TO OPENING CREDITS]. I don't know, I've always felt like starting a movie off with a dumb tease like that is kind of played out. It doesn't make me any more interested in the movie I'm about to watch. Especially because the dude doesn't even give an answer. It's kind of like asking the audience "Hey, do you want to see a movie about The Iceman, a convicted murderer and crime lord?" "Well, yes, that's why we paid to see it..." Like, the only way that this concept even remotely interests me anymore is if they cut to him in prison, and he gets asked a bizarre question out of left field that I completely wasn't expecting them to ask. "Iceman... Do you regret throwing a grenade that giraffe...?" [FADE TO BLACK] [CUT TO OPENING CREDITS]. See, *now* I'm interested to get to the end of this movie!
-Could have used less of the pre-mob backstory. It was slow as hell, and I didn't get that much out of it.
-PRO TIP: If you're on a date with a guy, no matter how nice or intriguing he seems to you, once you notice he has a grim reaper tattooed on his hand, you should probably not call him back. HE MIGHT BE A BIT OF A WILDCARD.
-The cinematography seemed kind of dull and washed out, but not intentionally. Every room looked like it had a fog machine going in it. It's poorly shot, I'm saying.
-Whoa, that's David Schwimmer. He should not be playing a gangster. I guess he plays a worrisome and lowly gangster. ROSS GONNA ROSS. Sick ponytail/mustache combo, though.
-Hey, do you guys remember Stephen Dorff? He's in this. He was like Guy Pearce before Guy Pearce was a thing. I don't really care for either of those gentlemen.
-Not gonna lie, I think I kind of gave up on giving this movie 100% of my attention about an hour into it. I don't think that's necessarily my fault.
-The plot structure of this movie is kind of like Goodfellas, but if you only watch every fifth scene, and then took out all the good camerawork and editing. (It's actually not really like Goodfellas at all, and I feel a little bad for even making a joke about that comparison)
-Ehhhh, don't try to make me feel bad for the cold-blooded criminal. This ain't Blow.
Final Thoughts: It's less of a compelling multi-decade crime saga than it is a cheap biopic. And It's less of a cheap biopic than it is a clunky Cliff's Notes version of a guy's life with a bunch of pages torn out. I get the whole "he's a killer and he's ALSO a family man, and UH OH, those two things might get mixed together at some point!", but it just wasn't assemb- ...uhhhhhg. Here... I just took the liberty of taking a photo of the absolute perfect moment of the visuals and the subtitles combining into an overall cohesive snapshot of everything The Iceman movie is all about.
5.5 out of 10