Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Ray Romano
Director: Martin Scorsese
Well, here it is. After years in development hell and more time spent de-aging actors than any movie I can think of, The Irishman has finally arrived. Looking back at the year, this was my most anticipated movie coming into 2019, so needless to say the pressure was on to perform. While not as strong as the best of Scorsese’s career, The Irishman certainly lives up to the hype. A detailed, in-depth look into the life of a killer back with a trio of phenomenal performances, The Irishman feels like the proper send off for Scorsese and his career with gangster movies.
The film follows Frank Sheeran (De Niro) as he reflects on his life and his affiliation with the Bufalino crime family. From his days driving trucks for low wages, to when he met Russell Bufalino (Pesci), to his rise within the family and eventually meeting union president Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino). Frank spends most of the 209 minute runtime contemplating his life and analyzing the decisions that he’s made. Let’s start off with the most obvious portion of the movie; the runtime. Yes, 209 minutes is an obscene amount of time for a movie and even though Scorsese is no stranger to long movies, I believe this is his longest yet. While it means that this movie will have almost every detail included in the book, I think at a certain point you have to know when to stop. Even a movie like Casino is 178 minutes long but you never really feel it. When you cover decades of a complicated and complex man’s life, naturally this is going to run a little long, but this obtuse runtime is what will keep The Irishman off of my best of the year list. With that in mind though, everything else is done on a masterclass level that you would expect with someone like Scorsese. Whether these are the technical aspects such as the score or the editing or the performances by the top three actors, we see a movie where every single detail is planned out. Of the performances, while De Niro stands out for carrying the movie and serving as the narrator, I was very impressed by Pacino’s role and how it serves as a foil to both Frank and Russell. Pacino brings an energy to this movie that I haven’t seen from him in years and shows us that he still has the ability to harness the skills that have made him one of the most prolific actors of all time. When everything is accounted for, The Irishman is a deep, brutal movie that pulls no physical or emotional punches on its way to what should be a cap off to an era of phenomenal and memorable movies. If The Irishman cut just a little bit off of this final product, then there’s a very good chance that this would be one the best movies of the year. Unfortunately I can’t say it’s elite, but The Irishman is certainly a great movie that should be revered for years to come.
Overall, I never thought there was a way to make union negotiations interesting, but leave it to Scorsese to tie it into the mob life. The Irishman is such a unique movie to be released in 2019 because in a sense it feels like a relic of the past being brought into our lives in a new era. I’m sure this will do well when all the awards are finally wrapped up, but in my heart of hearts I really wanted this to be my favorite movie of the year, but it just doesn’t meet that level of hype.
Overall Score: 8.5/10