*This is supposedly a true story
In the 1950s, truck driver Frank Sheeran gets involved with Russell Bufalino and his Pennsylvania crime family. As Sheeran climbs the ranks to become a top hit man, he also goes to work for Jimmy Hoffa — a powerful Teamster tied to organized crime.
I got the chance to see The Irishman a couple weeks ago actually but I wanted to wait until this hit Netflix to put out my thoughts. Yes, you heard that right Martin Scorsese’s new epic is a Netflix movie. It had a limited theater run for Oscar purposes but this is a massive property for Netflix and one they have invested a ton of money in hoping for the big Oscar prize. They invested over 150 million dollars in order to get the fantastic cast and to do the elaborate de aging process.
I also find this interesting that this is my 200th post and it is a Scorsese movie seeing as my 100th post was Avengers Endgame. Why is this interesting you ask? Well because Scorsese has been in the news recently for saying Marvel movies are not really cinema. I am on the record stating that I love Marvel movies, but I agree with his statement that the lack of stakes hurts a lot of them sometimes. When stakes are added with Black Panther, Infinity War, Endgame and others those tend to be the best movies.
Back to the Irishman though, because this really is a movie that shows the craft and greatness of Scorsese. That greatness shows from the opening shot that reminds us of Goodfellas, to the guns on the bed to help us recall Taxi Driver, to just the cast that screams we are watching a Scorsese epic. Oh and it does not hurt that we get to see Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano, and Bobby Cannavale. What is even more amazing is most of those guys are pretty old but the de aging they did was pretty seamless and made it even more impressive.
We see Frank Sheeran (De Niro) become friends with a mob boss (Joe Pesci) and get expedited into the world of gangsters. We then go on the journey with Frank to meeting Union king Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) and how he was able to become friends with one of the most famous and powerful men in America. The story goes all the way up to the disappearance of Hoffa and the surrounding issues with what happened. We also get to see how these characters and in turn Scorsese deal with mortality and the choices we all make. As with all Scorsese movies the story is less important than the ideas he is purveying. He weaves an incredible tale of Frank Sheeran’s life while also showing us that even with all our accomplishments, if you don’t have great people around you, it is all for nothing.
I am not going to do stocks for this movie because how do you do stocks for one of the greatest Directors and some of the greatest actors of all time. So instead we are just going to grade how each of them did.
Robert De Niro – A+
This is De Niro at his finest, which arguably the greatest actor of all time giving another hall of fame performance. He has to play the younger live wire version of Frank, while also growing into the older more refined version. His performance is measured, emotional, and powerful and everything you would expect from one of the kings.
Al Pacino – A
Shockingly Al had never worked with Scorsese before but this was the perfect role for him. Over the years Pacino has become know for his yelling and over the top performances. That is why playing the over the top and fiery Hoffa was the perfect match for him. The film lights up when he is on screen and he owns every scene he is in. Sometimes he does take it a bit too far but I still think he is looking at another Oscar nomination for this role.
Joe Pesci – A
We are so used to the Pesci from Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino who chews up the scenery and can burst into flames at any moment. This performance was much quieter but still so powerful. He plays a mob boss but one who is reluctant at times, and shows his human side a lot. I loved seeing him on screen again and it was a great reminder of how talented he is.
Stephen Graham – A-
Graham played Tony Pro, a rival mob boss and he had some of the best scenes in the movie. There is a scene where him and Pacino go at it for a good 7 minutes and it might be the best part of the whole movie. I loved him in Snatch, I loved him in Boardwalk Empire and I LOVED him in this.
Ray Romano – B
He had a solid role as the Lawyer for all these guys but did not have enough to do to push him over the edge. I still love this role from him though because it is not what we normally see from him.
*A couple other tidbits
- Anna Pacquin said one sentence?
- Jesse Plemons!
- Harvey Keitel was typically great in his short time on screen.
While their still is doubt that this is the true telling of what happened to Jimmy Hoffa, this is the most widely accepted version. But even without that, this is a masterclass in film making, acting and storytelling as a whole. Martin Scorsese has made another epic and I hope we can all appreciate this movie and him while we still can.
*You can find all of my Movie Ratings here.