In the 1960s, Richard Kuklinski (Shannon) begins working for a mob-operated porn operation. His ice-cold nerve eventually captures the attention of the local boss (Liotta), and by 1975 he is working as a contract hit man. It turns out he’s very good at what he does. His trusting wife Deborah (Ryder) believes he is toiling in currency exchange, and happily enjoys their comfortable lifestyle. For over a decade he lives a double life, dismembering and freezing over 100 bodies (earning his nickname), while sending his two daughters to Catholic school. But when will his luck run out?
At the heart of this skilled genre piece lies Shannon’s remarkable performance; his distinctively scary face belies both torment and anger, making his Kuklinski at once horrendous and tragic. Ryder balances Shannon’s intensity with a sensual softness; it’s one of her best roles in ages. Kuklinski’s day job may be grisly, but Vromen offsets all the violence with some colorful characters: notably Liotta doing what he does best; an unrecognizable Evans as the chilling “Mr. Freezy”; and Franco in a brief, pervy cameo. Inspired by a true story, this gritty crime picture makes for killer viewing.