TIFF 2012: The Iceman Chills To the Bone

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Michael Shannon is The Iceman.
  • Michael Shannon plays a contract killer in The Iceman.

Michael Shannon scares the bejeezus out of me. For all I know, he was a Boy Scout and calls his mother every Sunday; but as the title character in The Iceman, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 10, Shannon sent chills through a movie theater on a steamy late-summer afternoon.

Shannon plays Richard Kuklinski, the real-life contract killer responsible for more than 100 slayings through the 1960s, '70s and '80s before being apprehended in 1986. The Iceman is as good as a Scorsese or Coppola crime drama and its fast-paced edginess makes it a must-see for fans of the genre.

Kuklinski lived the ultimate double-life: a tender and devoted family man by day and a terror by night. Kuklinski would even put his victims on ice for years so that homicide detectives were baffled by the time of death.

Shannon is surrounded by a superb supporting cast including James Franco, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta and an almost unrecognizable Chris Evans who plays a stringy-haired killer (this is Captain America?).

Director Ariel Vromen and production designer Nathan Amondson expertly capture the clothes, music and architecture of the '60s through the '80s without overplaying their hand or showing off.

But it's Shannon who smolders and simmers—but look out when he reaches a raging boil.

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