RELEASE DATE: November 1, 2019 (limited theatrically)
November 27, 2019 (steaming)
MPAA RATING: R (for pervasive language and strong violence)
The Irishman is a lengthy film, coming in with a running time of nearly three-and-a-half hours. The good news is that, had I not known its length ahead of time, I really wouldn’t have noticed, as it is a generally well-paced motion picture with compelling characters, impressive performances, and an interesting story that hold the viewer’s attention. And anyway, who the heck is going to tell producer/director Martin Scorsese that his movie is too long? As one of his characters might say, just fuggedaboutit.
This crime thriller begins in an assisted living facility where we first meet an elderly Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) as he looks back on his life as a member of a crime family. The film is bookended with Sheeran in the home, so we know from the start that he has survived a life that many did not endure, including former Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). Here we have Scorsese’s and screenwriter Steven Zaillian’s take on Hoffa’s disappearance in 1975. Suffice it to say, it isn’t pretty.
While it is terrific to watch DeNiro and Pacino in action, it is perhaps even more enjoyable to see Joe Pesci bring to life crime family leader Russell Bufalino who early on takes Sheeran under his wing and sets him on a path of crime, corruption, and power.
Worth noting is the extensive use of CGI (computer generated imaging) in an effort to have the characters appear younger in various scenes, since the movie spans several decades. Scorsese chose to go this route, rather than cast younger actors in the roles. The results are, well, just sort of successful. While not a distraction, I’m not convinced that the effects make a significant difference.
What does work is the collective years of talent and experience that Scorsese, DeNiro, Pacino, and Pesci bring to making The Irishman. It is, quite simply, their combined best work in decades.