The Iceman

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Iceman Movie Poster Image
Extremely violent portrait of unrepentant real-life killer.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 106 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A man spends his life killing and performing acts of violence, reaping great financial rewards and lying to his family. In the end, he pays for his crimes, but he claims that he doesn't regret anything -- except hurting his family. There's a good deal of cultural stereotyping around the main character's Polish ancestry.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is a contract killer, named "The Iceman" because of his apparent heartlessness. He's able to kill easily without any moral conundrum, and even when he's caught and pays for his crimes, he claims not to regret any of the murders he committed. Most of the other characters in the movie are likewise either underworld types or victims.


The main character (who's based on a real person) is a contract killer working for mobsters. He brutally, coldly stabs, slices, strangles, and shoots several characters on screen, and the movie tells us that the real person may have killed more than 100 people. Other characters are also killers; there are many corpses and lots of blood spatters. In a couple of gruesome scenes, two professional killers freeze and chop up their victims to make them harder to identify. There are also a few hand-to-hand fights. Teen girls are in jeopardy in a few scenes.


The main character has sex with his wife. No nudity is shown -- they're both in bed under the covers -- but the scene still feels somewhat explicit. As the movie starts, the main character works in a warehouse dubbing porn movies. Viewers see a couple of brief porn clips, including one in which half a breast is visible (the rest is just unidentifiable flesh). The audio is more graphic than the visuals (moans and groans). A minor character films a sexy movie in his apartment (nothing shown). A teen girl is suggested to be naked, though she's well-covered. Also some innuendo from time to time.


"F--k" is used most frequently, and very often; "s--t," "c--t," "c--ksucker," "a--hole," "bitch," "jerk off," "d--k," "balls," "ass," and "goddamn" are also used.


One shot of Times Square includes Sony and Coca-Cola signs.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug deals are a part of the film's world. One particular scene shows a drug deal in progress, with one of the supporting characters testing a batch of cocaine. Adults generally drink wine with dinner or drink whiskey in a background way, and secondary characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Iceman is based on real-life contract killer Richard Kuklinski, who raised a family that knew nothing about what he did for a living. Expect very strong violence, mostly around Kuklinski's killings, which involve both shooting and stabbing/slicing. Some blood is shown, but even more disturbing are the scenes in which he freezes and then chops up his victims. Language is also extremely strong, with many uses of "f--k" and lots of other words. There's one semi-explicit sex scene and many references to porn movies, with some brief clips shown and audio heard. Drug deals are shown (with a supporting character testing some cocaine), and characters sometimes drink in a background way. The movie's strong, depressing subject matter won't make it a much of a draw for teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjoshua martinez September 28, 2013

17 and up.

this dark drama movie iceman is a good but disturbing film based on real-life events about a dedicated father who becomes good at some point in his life and the... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byCerone August 3, 2013

The Iceman Short Review Summary

Is very good at humanizing a cold blooded killer who is still considered a despicable person in general, full of hate and silent violence. Michael Shannon does... Continue reading

What's the story?

Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) starts out in the 1960s working in a warehouse, making prints of porn movies. He meets Deborah (Winona Ryder) and starts dating her, but it's clear that something's up, since Richard has the cold, calculating ability to kill a man after a minor squabble in a bar. Later, a powerful hood, Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta), hires Richard as a contract killer, and he starts to climb the ladder of success. He marries Deborah and raises two girls. But after an error on a job, he's suspended and starts his own side business with another killer, "Mr. Freezy" (Chris Evans), who uses chemicals and modern methods. But it's only a matter of time before Roy figures out what's going on and seeks revenge on Richie and his family.

Is it any good?

Based on real events, the story of Richard Kuklinski is definitely an odd one. He supposedly killed more than 100 people while remaining a loving husband and father to two girls, and they never knew what he was up to. It would be difficult to mess up a story like this. So it's somewhat underwhelming that director Ariel Vromen chooses to film it in a fairly straightforward way, using the well-worn, standard-issue biopic formula that has won many awards.

While most of the movie feels rather ordinary, the tried-and-true biopic formula does usually allow for at least one great performance, and we get that from Shannon in the lead role. He's already a fearsome actor with a warm patch of humanity, and no one else could have played the role so completely. Likewise, Ryder expertly re-invents herself for her role and is nearly unrecognizable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Iceman's violence. How much violence is necessary to illustrate just who Richard Kuklinski was?

  • Are the members of Richie's family role models, or are they victims? How did you feel about them?

  • What is it about Richie that made him so "icy"? How was he able to lie so easily to his family? Did it appear that he loved them? Is he a sympathetic character in any way?

  • What's the appeal of biopics, stories about real people? Does the subject of a biopic have to be an admirable person for it to succeed?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love true stories

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate