All the ingredients are here for The Irishman to be a Scorcese classic; Returning legends that have worked with Scorcese in some of his best movies; A “true story” which focuses on gangsters and the criminal fraternity; Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci sharing the screen together again. It would also have all the key ingredients to be a huge flop, not quite living up to the expectations a film of this magnitude has placed upon it. Luckily, this film manages to at least meet those huge expectations.
To begin with, the story is exactly the kind that Scorcese tells so well. This is a movie about gangsters, from “hits,” to long scenes at glamorous parties through to tense drives and sudden double-crosses. Scorcese is never more comfortable than when he is dealing with this sort of material and The Irishman sits comfortably alongside Goodfellas and Casino as some of his best work.
This is in no small part to the fantastic cast he has brought back. De Niro plays The Irishman of the title and carries the film well. He is sitting back in the sort of role he made famous and it is clear that the chemistry between him and Scorcese is still there. That chemistry exists opposite long since retired Joe Pesci, who comes back to movies here and manages to slot in as if he hasn’t missed a beat. Al Pacino rounds off the trio, arguably doing as much heavy lifting as De Niro, playing Jimmy Hoffa. Having these screen icons share the screen doesn’t quite have the same novelty it did in films like Heat but it still electrifies and the resulting performances are fantastic.
This is added to by the technology Scorcese uses. The Irishman is a movie told over many years and decades and rather than employ many actors, digital de-ageing is utilised. It is seamless and although your eyes don’t quite let your brain become completely fooled, it works well enough that you soon forget that these actors are not the ages they are playing. The realism and authenticity it adds to the movie and of course the performances makes the movie so watchable and helps it accomplish what it is trying to do.
The Irishman is classic Scorcese and the director is not a man to do anything by halves. This does mean the last 40 minutes of the movie feel slightly indulgent, particularly having already watched a great 3 hours, and you can’t help but think the real story of the movie has been told while we are watching the end to the titular Irishman’s tale. It isn’t boring but just unnecessary and doesn’t add to what has gone before. It is a small complaint in a sure-fire classic though.
Overall, The Irishman is Scorcese on top form. This sort of movie is his speciality and it shows, with Scorcese telling a gangster story which will sit comfortably alongside his other classics. The returning acting legends more than make up for lost time, particularly Joe Pesci, and meld so well with the fantastic use of technology and CGI.
Rating – 5!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)
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