PG Score: 9/10
The Irishman is a fantastic film by all accounts. It’s arguably one of Scorsese’s top five all time, and given his body of work, that’s saying a lot. It details the story of mob hitman Frank Sheeran (played by Robert De Niro) and his potential involvement in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (played by Al Pacino). The tale is recounted firsthand by Frank and spans decades of criminal activity leading up to and after Hoffa’s disappearance. The plot moves along effortlessly as key events and important figures are introduced. I was extremely impressed that the considerable three-and-a-half-hour runtime moved along with no lag whatsoever. It honestly felt like the movie was closer to 2.5 hours, and that’s a compliment to The Irishman’s excellent pacing. From the jovial banter to the heated altercations (both verbal and physical), everything just clicked. It’s the Martin Scorsese-machine operating at full tilt. The writing in The Irishman is phenomenal. It’s powerful, clever, and quick-witted. Each line is delivered with the utmost finesse by every member of this elite cast. Robert De Niro is at the top of his game in one of his best performances of all time. It’s a different role than his typical character. He’s not nearly as animated as we are used to seeing (that’s not a bad thing). Instead, he is much more understated and reflective; he says just as much with his facial expressions and mannerisms as he does with his actual dialogue. It’s a performance reminiscent of Ryan Gosling’s in Drive. De Niro’s performance is masterful and powerful enough to garner an Oscar nomination.
Joe Pesci plays his best friend, Russell Bufalino, and maximizes his screen time. Pesci is up to his old tricks in a role we are very accustomed to witnessing from him, albeit a little more subtle this time around. Al Pacino was magnificent as the controversial Hoffa. He steals the screen every scene he’s in, and although he’s not introduced until about an hour in, he makes up for lost time and then some. His character is hot-headed, passionate, and chock-full of vitriol. He’s a ticking time bomb who is so massively stubborn that he quite often finds himself ruffling the wrong feathers. Pacino captures this perfectly and his performance is absolutely Oscar-worthy as well. Stephen Graham as “Tony Pro” contributes to some of the film’s most memorable exchanges with Pacino. The two go at each other tooth and nail and their disputes are extremely entertaining. Part of what this makes such an easy movie to watch is that the tale is woven in a very accessible and authentic format. It’s not your typical mob movie. The violence is infrequent and not glorified. The characters are humanized, but not in such a way to absolve them of their misdeeds. It’s expertly conveyed by the superb screenplay, as there isn’t a dull moment in the masterpiece that is The Irishman. I highly recommend this to not only the mob movie fanatics, but also to anyone who appreciates dynamic performances, top-notch writing, and a well crafted true crime drama (hopefully, that's everyone).