I knew watching this movie was gonna be an ordeal. 3 hours and 27 minutes of gangster movie. It kinda makes sense that it would be on Netflix and not in theaters. But this is a Martin Scorsese film we’re talking about, which means he has to be in the awards conversations, so limited theatrical run it is! My options were basically gonna be The Landmark or Alamo Drafthouse. Comfy seats and good food made my choice a no brainer. I’d even put it off a week from opening because I knew it would basically take up my entire Saturday. Definitely a win on the venue. Buffalo cauliflower and creme brulee french toast got me thru it. Shout to to my server whose name I never caught. He told me he’d been forewarned that people would be constantly ordering more beers during the film, and I spotted him make more rounds scouting for order cards than any server I’ve seen at a dine in theater. I made sure to tip a little extra since I’m sure one long movie equals less tips overall than two normal movies.
The Irishman is Robert DeNiro. A few chance encounters with some heavily connected wiseguys leads him into the mob where he works his way up, gaining favor with some of the top guys. We spend the first hour or so watching that rise. Then he meets Jimmy Hoffa, at the height of his power and fame. The two become close friends and we see the events of a few years unfold leading up to Hoffa’s infamous disappearance. That’s the next two hours or so. The last bit is an uber long epilogue.
There is a lot going on here. It’s a sprawling narrative, which utilizes some de-aging technology (think Nick Fury in Captain Marvel). But the cast was the ultimate draw for me. This movie gave us a chance to see Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino work together in a good movie (not that Righteous Kill BS). Harvey Keitel is in the mix too. Then you’ve got some of today’s up and coming legends like Bobby Cannavale, Jesse Plemmons, Ray Romano, and Anna Paquin (who only has one line of dialog, which I have mixed feelings about). However, the ultimate draw and what really got me excited to see this movie, JOE PESCI !!!! He was talked out of retirement (reportedly after lots and lots and LOTS of asking) for a key role in this film and I loved every second he was on screen. Regardless of how I feel about the rest of the film, he made it worthwhile.
Scorsese has been making a lot of waves lately about his dislike of Marvel movies. Now we know I’m pretty die hard for the MCU, but I’m totally cool with someone not liking them. Phase 1 in particular isn’t all that strong, and you really hafta stick with it to Phase 3 to get the full impact. It irks me that he’s bashing them hard and making broad generalizations without actually watching them. One of his arguments was that they’re too formulaic and by the book. Um kinda ironic he says that because I sort of felt that way about The Irishman. However formulaic doesn’t imply bad. I acknowledge that shortcoming in the MCU, but I still love those movies. I think formula is okay as long as you dress it up well. The Irishman was a really good movie, dressed up with a great cast and a strong story. It just didn’t feel particularly groundbreaking to me in any way.
I definitely felt the long run time too. I think it’s a pitfall of the freedom that Scorsese had with this being a Netflix film. The epilogue absolutely went on too long, and despite being really into the story, I’d still check my watch in disbelief that I was gonna be sitting there for how much longer. I feel like there’s things that could have been tightened up, but if not then at least give us an intermission. Yes I sat thru Endgame 4 times, which is nearly as long, but I felt that utilized the time better with more differentiated bits of story. I also had a little trouble following some of the details. It’s hard to stay focused on intricate dialog when you’ve been in the same spot for so long. Shout out again to Alamo drafthouse though because I was comfortable and well fed. That goes a long way. And also solidifies the argument that this film does belong on Netflix.
All of that boils down to this is a good movie. If you like gangster movies, no one does it better than Scorsese. And seeing so many legends on screen together is such a treat. I just don’t think this one is the be all end all of gangster movies. It’s still worth your time, provided you can squeeze that runtime into your life
The Irishman – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n