The Irishman (2019)

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The great Martin Scorsese returns with his latest epic, driven with stellar performances by a trio of legends who can be best described as a “golden dream team”.

Frank Sheeran started out as a truck driver, delivering meats to different locations. When his truck breaks down, he gets help from Russell Buffalino, who in turns befriends Frank after an incident results in Russell’s lawyer cousin, getting Frank out of a jam. Russell and Frank form a lifelong friendship even with the fact that Russell is the head of a Northeast Pennsylvania crime family. Frank soon becomes an enforcer for his friend, who introduces him to Teamsters Union boss Jimmy Hoffa.

The trio of Russell, Frank, and Jimmy become friends. When Jimmy is incarcerated for jury tampering in 1964, Jimmy entrusts his assistant, Frank Fitzsimmons, to be the new boss. However, when Jimmy is paroled, he is to not get involved in any Teamsters business. Despite Russell and Frank’s attempts to keep him in check, Hoffa begins to go too far as challenging both the Teamsters and even other crime families who have been loyal to Russell. Russell makes a decision that will change forever and enlists the aid of Frank to do the job.

When it comes to gangster epics, Martin Scorsese is the almighty king of the genre. From Goodfellas and Casino to the remake of Infernal Affairs, The Departed, Scorsese knows his films. For his latest epic, he has brought in a “golden dream team” consisting of two legends he has worked with and one he has not worked with until now and they work amazingly well together. It is like the two legends have welcomed the third in their ranks.

Robert De Niro is always great when it comes to his collaborations with Scorsese. Here, he takes the central role of Frank Sheeran, an Irish-born combat vet who becomes an enforcer for the Buffalino crime family, with Russell Buffalino taking charge. Usually when it comes to Joe Pesci playing some sort of gangster, there is usually some sort of comic relief to go with that tough guy exterior. However, Pesci plays it more straight this time around and what better role for him to come out of retirement than that of Russell Buffalino. However, they welcome the great Al Pacino in their ranks as he plays Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.

The film’s runtime of 209 minutes may seem a bit farfetched. However, the story’s structure works so well that once the film starts picking up pace, it will not feel like a three-and-a-half-hour movie. The flashbacks incorporated throughout various parts of the film gives us a better understanding of the characters and how their past actions affect their present. The supporting cast of the film, from a serious Ray Romano (as Russell’s lawyer cousin) to Stephen Graham as fellow mobster Anthony Provenzano, they gel so well with the trio of De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino that it helps the pace going. There are even some surprise cameos from some big names today, even if they appear in small roles, including Anna Paquin as Sheeran’s oldest daughter and Orange is the New Black co-star Dascha Polanco as a nurse.

All in all, The Irishman continues Martin Scorsese’s reign as the king of the gangster genre. The trio of Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino are a “golden dream team” with their brilliant performances.

WFG RATING: A

A Netflix Original Film of a Tribeca Films/Sikelia Productions/Winkler Films production. Director: Martin Scorsese. Producers: Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Irwin Winkler, Gerald Chamales, Gaston Pavlovich, Randall Emmett, and Gabriele Israilovici. Writer: Steven Zaillian; based on the novel “I Heard You Paint Houses” by Charles Brandt. Cinematography: Rodrigo Prieto. Editing: Thelma Schoonmaker.

Cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Al Pacino, Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Stephen Graham, Harvey Keitel, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Katherine Narducci, Welker White, Jack Huston, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin, Marin Ireland, Stephen Mailer, Steven Van Zandt, Danny A. Abeckaser.

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