Director: Ariel Vromen
Writer: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Based on: Anthony Bruno’s book of the same name about Richard Kuklinski
Cast: Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, David Schwimmer, Danny A. Abeckaser, John Ventimiglia, Ryan O’Nan, McKaley Miller, Megan Sherrill, James Franco, Stephen Dorff
Seen on: 30.4.2017
Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon) works behind the scenes in the porn industry, a job that brings him in contact with Roy Demeo (Ray Liotta) who sees potential in Richard and promptly hires him as a contract killer. Richard takes to this new job with a sense of professionalism that includes keeping it very far away from his wife Deborah (Winona Ryder) and kids. But mob politics aren’t easy to navigate and Richard can’t make everybody happy at all times.
I didn’t expect much from this film, but despite a lengthy second half and some seriously atrocious 70s hair, it drew me in, mostly thanks to a magnetic Michael Shannon.
I don’t know how many liberties the film took with this story, but it seems to be fact that Kuklinski actually killed over a hundred people and that his family didn’t know about his actual job until he was arrested. That alone makes this a jaw-dropping story.
And Michael Shannon – as usual – is absolutely great (and also tall, especially compared to Ryder). He hooks you with apparent ease, even playing the worst people, and personally, I can’t help but watch him when he’s on screen. Even though he is in competition here with some of the hairstyles (especially Chris Evans’ and, worst of all, David Schwimmer’s).
The film comes with it’s fair share of violence but I did expect it to be worse. In the end it is more interested in Kuklinski as a character. There the film does its best work, portraying a man caught somewhere between complexity and utter simplicity.
Nevertheless, the film starts to drag a little in the second half (although I was also very tired when I watched it, so maybe it was just me) and as usual, it wouldn’t have hurt if (more) women had been included (more prominently). But I was interested in the story all the way through.
Summarizing: Worth it, especially to watch Shannon.