During the ‘50s and ‘60s and into the ‘70s (and possibly going back to as early as 1948) Richard Kuklinski murdered between 100 and 300 people, depending on whose figures you believe … and even he gave various numbers while he was still alive. He may have been exaggerating, but it’s clear that he killed a whole bunch of people. When he started off he did it for fun, but later he was a contract killer for various lower-level mobsters. At some point in his career he and a confederate (who drove an ice cream truck!) began freezing their victims in an ice cream warehouse, then thawing them out some months later and dumping them, so the cops wouldn’t know when they had been killed. Hence, the Iceman.
He was clearly a psychopath, but a fairly unusual one. He seemed to really care for his wife (Winona Ryder) and two daughters. Other than that, he had no feelings for any human being. This is, of necessity, a bloody and ugly story, and wouldn’t have been worth watching except for good writing and good acting all around, including poor Ray Liotta, who seems doomed to play creepy mob characters. But the movie makes it or doesn’t make it on the strength of Michael Shannon’s portrayal of Kuklinski, and here it hits a home run. This man, with his impassive, ravaged face, has been great in everything I’ve seen him in where he had a part big enough to shine, starting with Revolutionary Road, where he was amazing. I believe there is an Oscar in this man’s future, it’s only a matter of time.