Still from The Irishman

The Irishman stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Ray Romano. (Photo Courtesy of Netflix)

Martin Scorsese has proven, once again, that he still has what it takes to direct a captivating crime film starring a wide cast of colorful characters. “The Irishman” is reminiscent of the classic Scorsese films such as “Goodfellas” and “Casino.”

This film follows the true story of notorious hit-man Frank Sheeran, who was a known associate of the Buffalino crime family.

Sheeran was tasked with traveling to Chicago to assist notable Teamster Union boss Jimmy Hoffa. A bond forms between the two as they take over Chicago’s union district, and reap the benefits alongside the Italian mob. After a series of escalating events, Sheeran is forced to choose between the family and his closest friend. “The Irishman” tells a story of friendship, greed, betrayal, and regret. 

One of the best aspects of the film is the characters, who are brought to life through amazing acting. Robert De Niro is fantastic as a stoic Frank Sheeran. Special effects were used to de-age De Niro for the character’s early life, and the effects are barely noticeable. However, there is one instance in which his movements match those of an older individual, despite the character being younger at that point in the film. 

Joe Pesci, as Russel Buffalino, is just as intimidating as he once was, though his intensity is more subtle and reserved in this film when compared to his previous characters who were more abrasive. Al Pacino’s portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa was an absolute joy to watch as well. 

It is difficult to choose a favorite actor in a film that has such a high-caliber cast. That title could go to Stephen Graham or Bobby Cannavale.

Graham brought a sense of vibrancy to his character, Anthony Provenzano, and was able to bounce that personality off of Al Pacino when the two shared a scene, which is a legendary feat in itself. Cannavale offered a more reserved take on the character of Felix. Cannavale was the most entertaining through the body language that he directed at the other characters. He was so suave and nuanced that it was often mesmerizing.

“The Irishman” would not be a Scorsese mobster flick without the signature slaying of mafioso. There is one sequence in the film that was executed flawlessly, which involves the death of Crazy Joe Gallo. The camera follows Sheeran as he enters the building and continues to follow him through the eventual chaos. The scene is by far the most memorable among Scorsese’s filmography. The brisk pace, the roaring music, and the meticulous choreography all culminated in a feeling of anxiety and tension.

This could also be said for the wonderful cinematography in the film. The way the neon lights reflect off the wet, crowded streets of Chicago and the images of the stacked tenants of the urban landscapes perfectly captures the mood that film is trying to convey.

The music in the film is absolutely superb. A familiar tune would always play when a character was introduced to the story. All the pieces fit the era, which is a trademark style of Martin Scorsese's. The tune of classic rock songs helps immerse the audience in the atmosphere that the film is presenting.

While the songs were era-appropriate and were used excellently, the film also has a wonderful original theme produced by Robbie Robertson. The theme was reminiscent of an old western tune. The beat of a drum, the buzz of a harmonica, and the deep rhythm of a bass created a feeling of suspense for the characters and the situations in which they found themselves.  

“The Irishman” feels like the film that Martin Scorsese has been building toward for many years. Every ounce of care and precision can be felt in each second of the film. The three hour run-time flies by so fast due to the sheer entertainment that is offered through the characters, dialogue, music, and action. “The Irishman” is currently available on Netflix.


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