In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) gets involved with Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hit man, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) — a powerful Teamster tied to organized crime.
To say that Martin Scorsese is a legendary and inspirational filmmaker would be an incredibly massive understatement to say the absolute least. He has helmed some of the most iconic drama pictures of all time including 1976’s Taxi Driver, 1980’s Raging Bull and 1990’s Goodfellas to name just a few.
His movies have always been highly influential to a whole plethora of filmmakers all around the world and his films have even inspired me. There is always something important he wants to say in each and every single one of his movies and he almost always does this in a brilliant and profound way.
The hype surrounding his newest feature film The Irishman, his follow-up to Silence, was incredible. I had heard so many people on social media hail this picture as one of the greatest of the decade and a film that will inspire a whole new generation of filmmakers to come. Now that I have seen it, I can gleefully report that The Irishman is indeed an incredible, expertly written and directed film that tells a character driven story.
That is one thing viewers need to know right off the bat when it comes to The Irishman – this is absolutely, one hundred percent, a character study. Please, do not go into this film expecting it to be an action-filled extravaganza, because if you do, you will be immensely disappointed and you will miss what the movie actually is. This is a movie that wants to tell the story of these three men Frank Sheeran, Russell Bufalino and Jimmy Hoffa. It does that excellently.
Something that struck me after my viewing was how depressing this movie is. As soon as the end credits appeared, it was as if I was hit with a wave of sadness. Not because I had just watched a movie I did not like, because I did like this movie. No, it was because I had just watched a movie that was told so beautifully with so much skill and contained characters so real and well-written, that, when certain plot points occur, they hit you hard and they feel real.
Any picture starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino sounds like an amazing ride, and it sure was. These three deliver some of their all-time best performances in The Irishman believe it or not. These are actors that I have been familiar with for my whole life, yet, while I was watching this film, I never once saw De Niro, Pesci, or Pacino. I saw their characters. Their acting is so raw and powerful in this movie that they honestly deserve awards recognition.
Let’s talk about the thing that almost everybody is talking about when it comes to this picture – the running time. The Irishman has a total running time of two hundred and nine minutes. That is essentially a three and a half hour long movie. Watching anything that long can be a daunting task, and to be fair with you, I genuinely think that The Irishman‘s running time was quite unnecessary.
There could have been big portions taken out of the final cut, and I honestly think that the movie would have told the same story. The first two acts of this movie were so interesting and brilliant, but when it came down to the third act, my interest was slowly but surely starting to dwindle, and I think that the running time could have been trimmed down significantly.
The Irishman is yet another jaw-droppingly intense and profoundly exhilarating picture from Martin Scorsese that is boosted by its three lead performances.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language and strong violence
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Distributed by: Netflix
Running Time: 209 minutes