The Iceman review (Blu-ray)

Shannon is simply one of the very best actors in the business right now and here gives an impressively commanding performance in this true life tale. He plays Richard Kuklinski, often referred to as "the polack" by his mob cohorts. After being recruited by chief don Roy Demeo (Liotta) in the mid '60s, he works as a contract killer for the next two decades, ultimately responsible for 100 murders before his arrest and imprisonment in 1986.

His clandestine work pays for a nice house in the suburbs that he shares with his caring wife (Ryder) and his two daughters, all of whom are unaware of his dark nefarious work. For Kuklinski is a psychopath with a smooth veneer. He rarely becomes unruffled. In the '70s he sports smart wide collar suits that fit nicely with his long sideburns. He gives off an air of compact confidence, his family blithely unknowing of his profession. Shannon is an immensely gifted actor and holds you in the palm of his hand throughout. He's a compelling presence at all times, and when he does erupt into violence it is powerful to witness. He's the best thing about this well paced crime tale.

It's gritty and well done, the period decor of the '60s convincingly deployed as it moves to the urban '70s. There's fine support from Evans, unrecognisable in spectacles with moustache, as his erstwhile partner Mr Freezy, who teaches him the benefits of freezing dead bodies before they want said corpses to be discovered, and Schwimmer, also moustachioed but with ponytail. as a former colleague. It took me a couple of scenes before I actually realised it was Mr Schwimmer, so good is he at blending into the background and projecting a lack of confidence. Liotta is suitably threatening in a customary crime lord role while Ryder registers convincing panic when Kuklinski finally gets his comeuppance.

But it's Shannon's vehicle all the way. See The Iceman then for his memorable turn. The film itself doesn't quite measure up to him. There's an air of familiarity about it all. It's a solid and workmanlike effort, watchable enough to be sure, but it doesn't bring anything new to a well worn scenario we've seen many times before.

EXTRAS ★★½ The Iceman Behind The Scenes featurette (8:12); interviews with stars Shannon, Ryser and Evans, director Vromen and producer Ehud Bleiberg (29:34).

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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