Film: The Iceman

"Hahaha. You slay me."

A 2012 docudrama detailing the life and crimes of Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), a New Jersey family man with a secret life as a hitman for the Mob in The Seventies. His nickname came from both his nerves of steel and one of his kill techniques: freezing corpses for several months to disguise the time of death. Winona Ryder plays his unsuspecting wife Deborah, Ray Liotta is Roy DeMeo, the midlevel boss who recruits Kuklinski, and Chris Evans is rival shooter and occasional partner Robert "Mr. Freezy" Pronge.

This film provides examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Kuklinski and Roy, who wants his driver to respect his heritage and gives quarters to homeless men before ordering them killed.
  • American Accents: Joisey subdivision.
  • The Atoner / Bookends: The film begins and ends with Kuklinski in his jail cell. At the end, he expresses remorse only for the fact that he let down his wife and daughters.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Kulinski once he starts becoming successful as a hitman, especially in comparison to Pronge.
  • Badass Mustache:
  • Bad Humor Truck: Pronge works out of one, hence his nickname "Mr. Freezy."
  • Based on a Great Big Lie: The film is based on Kuklinksi's prison confessions made after he was already serving a life sentence. There is little actual evidence that verifies any of Kuklinki's tall tales, making it much more likely that he was a simple psychopath who liked attention rather than the legendary assassin he claimed to have been.
  • Berserk Button: Do not insult Kuklinski's family.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Pronge.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Kuklinski kills a man for insulting him in a pool hall argument, and another Mafia boss hires Kuklinski to kill one of Roy's men just for manhandling him.
  • Dissonant Serenity: What first attracts Roy's attention to Kuklinski is his calm response to being threatened, so he dubs him "The Iceman".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Kuklinski refuses to kill a 17 year old girl who saw him commit a murder. He co-conspirators are not so hampered.
  • Final Solution: When it appears that the Mob is bearing down on both of them, Pronge suggests to Kuklinski that they preemptively kill each other's families. Kuklinski's response is to kill Pronge on the parkbench where they were sitting.
  • He Knows Too Much: Kuklinski starts killing his friends for this reason. Except the one friend who sets him up with an undercover police officer.
  • Hollywood Silencer: Kuklinski shooting Pronge in a public park.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Deborah, in hindsight, although there are plenty of clues along the way that Kuklinski is no angel.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: Roy tests Kuklinski's ability to be a Professional Killer by having him kill a random street bum.
  • Leave No Witnesses: After Kuklinski kills a pornographer, he finds a seventeen-year old girl hiding in his closet. He hauls her out onto the street and it's at that point he meets fellow hitman "Mr Freezy" Pronge for the first time, who tries to run her down with his ice cream truck. Kuklinski makes Pronge cease his pursuit at gunpoint, but when the two hitmen team up later on, the first thing Pronge shows him is the girl's body, which he has kept frozen for later disposal.
  • The Mafia
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Kuklinski and Pronge use pure cyanide to simulate the effects of a heart attack.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Kuklinski. Compounded by the fact that he's played by Michael Shannon.
  • No Social Skills: Kuklinski's first date with future wife Deborah is full of this.
  • Overcrank: Kuklinski's arrest in front of his wife. He's subdued by a dozen cops as she's bundled into a squad car. Includes a Long Last Look between them.
  • Title Drop: Kuklinski gets his nickname when DeMeo sticks a gun in his face - and he doesn't flinch.
    "Man, you're cold as ice..."
    • Doubles as a Stealth Pun when you consider that Kuklinski "ices" his targets.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Kuklinski and Pronge. They begin as rivals, then become partners, then...well, see Final Solution.
    • Pronge argues that, since he's German/Irish and Kuklinski is Polish, they'll never be accepted by the Italian mob and might as well partner up.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Halfway through the film, DeMeo orders Kuklinski to halt his contract work - and Kuklinski panics at the idea of losing his main source of income.