The Irishman (2019) Review

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci with Martin Scorsese directing these legendary actors about a man named Frank who paints houses. No, this is not a movie that you missed from the 80’s or 90’s, but it is a movie that takes those guys from the time of their prime greatness and pulls them together for this grand mobster epic by the legendary director himself. Coming in at around three and a half hours long, The Irishman already had a lot working against it for many moviegoers, but on top of that it would be using de-aging technology to de-age the leads so that we can see them at several different ages. All of this as a pitch would make any studio skeptical to invest in given the expensive technology needed and the runtime posing a problem for bringing in people to a movie theatre, therefore no major studio invested. Netflix however bit on the opportunity for the expensive project, but with every bit of potential to become yet another Best Picture nomination for the company.

Going into watching this movie, I knew I was going to have to set aside plenty of time to watch considering its very long runtime. Even I wasn’t able to escape the busy life most of us had and ended up having to watch it in two separate sessions. Going into watching it at first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be hooked into the story or if De Niro still had it or if Joe Pesci was even able to come close to acting as well as he used to since he’s been in retirement for years. Well, thankfully all of those things didn’t end up being an issue and quite the opposite at that. I kept away from the trailers so as to be more surprised for when I sat down to actually watch the movie, so finding out that it was a story being told from Frank’s point of view, played by De Niro, I was worried if he could hold the whole film on his shoulders. It didn’t take long for me to be proven wrong as we our introduced to his character in three different points in time right at the beginning. It set up a lot of questions and a lot of intrigue and while the de-aging still needs some work, it was great to see him in his younger days again absolutely giving one of his best performances. Al Pacino does what Pacino does as he plays Jimmy Hoffa. He and De Niro have many scenes together and play off of each other well, but I felt that Pacino was overshadowed by De Niro who in fact was overshadowed by the biggest surprise of the movie for me. Joe Pesci is like if a quarterback retired after winning a Superbowl and then came back many years later and did it again with ease. Joe Pesci for me was easily the best part of the movie and his character Russell was fascinating and played well off of anyone across from him in any scene, he absolutely crushes it. It’s an extremely stacked year for supporting actors, but I feel he deserves so much recognition for coming back out of retirement and doing what he did.

Now the story is intriguing as we follow Frank as he becomes a man that “Paints Houses” which in their terms means that he’s a killer, someone that they can call on to get rid of somebody. I would say that the story drags a little with all of the talking and dialogue heavy moments, but picks up every time something has to be carried out like the killing someone that wronged somebody else. There’s nothing wrong with a dialogue heavy movie or dialogue heavy scenes, but that’s if it flows well and works without too many issues. One of my issues going in was the length of the film and the length is easily one of the biggest issues coming out of watching it. While I enjoyed the movie as a whole, I found that the length was unnecessary and could have easily been trimmed. It works being the length that it is, but it would have flowed and maybe felt much sharper and stronger if the movie was tightened up and cut some. I understand that the biggest draw for filmmakers going to Netflix is that they pretty much get to make the project they want to without much pushback, but I feel that Scorsese went overboard a little far with not cutting more unnecessary scenes, something that studios probably would have pushed for.

Ultimately this is an epic from a master filmmaker with master class actors involved and while personally I feel that the film could have been trimmed, it still works for me and I still feel that it has a very good chance of being at the top of the awards consideration lists that are out there. There were missed opportunities and self-indulgent instances that effected this film as a whole, but still meets the expectations and wants from someone that has been thirsty for this kind of gangster story with actors who you may have grew up watching in some of the best gangster movies of all time. This movie isn’t for everyone. It’s probably not for your mom or your girlfriend, but if they’re fans of long epic gangster movies than by all means show it to them. With the easy access of being on Netflix and with many people posting ways to watch this in parts, I would say it’s definitely worth giving a shot and is probably one of the top movies of the year. To me, it’s the second best Netflix movie of the year behind Marriage Story.

Grade: A-

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