Michael Shannon plays real-life contract killer Richard Kuklinski in this crime drama/thriller. Known as “Iceman” or “Ice,” Kuklinski allegedly committed hundreds of murders from the late 1940s until he was caught in 1986, many of them for the Mafia. Kuklinski gave numerous interviews out of his cell, and one of the results is this movie.
Winona Ryder plays his wife, Deborah (her real name was Barbara), who spends the first half of the story being cute and high-maintenance and the latter half being cute and submissive, with no idea of her husband’s true identity. Her ignorance (deliberate or not) speaks volumes about Kuklinski’s career — he is meticulous about covering his tracks, and for the most part, Kuklinski manages to keep his two worlds separate. Kuklinski pulls off one perfect murder after another while navigating the power politics of the mob. Mostly he works alone, though later he teams up with another killer, “Mr. Freezy” (Chris Evans), whose nickname is indicative of how he deals with his victims. Their partnership affords some scenes of gruesome humor.
It’s sad to see Ryder in such a flimsy role — she says almost nothing of interest or originality. At least Kay Corleone had the guts to walk out on Michael in “The Godfather.” Given that the movie is about Kuklinski and his amazing murder skills, it does seem a bit of a waste.