Hitman [1991/I]

The Iceman is an appropriate title for this pair of HBO specials, because the words of former Mafia enforcer Richard Kuklinski will chill you to the bone. Speaking in the monotonous drone of a man who has numbed himself with remorseless brutality, Kuklinski was first interviewed in 1991, five years after receiving consecutive life sentences for multiple murders. Specializing in the tidy use of cyanide, Kuklinski lived a double life, like the fictional hitmen in The Sopranos and Road to Perdition, passing as a "businessman" and devoted husband and father. He describes numerous killings in graphic detail, expressing nearly tearful regret only when lamenting the deception of his family. A vicious product of child abuse, Kuklinski was visited again by HBO in 2001, but this shameless redundancy was an obvious attempt to capitalize on the Sopranos phenomenon. Fascinating as a firsthand record of Mafia killing, these otherwise unsavory interviews serve little purpose beyond morbid exploitation. --Jeff Shannon

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