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Movie Review: “The Irishman”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Netflix Release: 11/27/2019

Netflix Release: 11/27/2019

Synopsis

Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) was once a hitman for the Philadelphia mob. Now he is an elderly man living in an assisted living home. All of his former associates are dead, and Frank is now recalling his life and experiences in the mob. Specifically, he is recalling his time in the mob surrounding his alleged involvement in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).

It all happened a very long time ago. Frank was working as a truck driver after his time in the military. He ended up crossing paths with Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci), a high ranking, influential member of the mob. The two hit it off quickly, and the powerful Russell Bufalino took Frank under his wing. After that, Frank would become deeply rooted in the mob, and his life would never be the same again.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

The Cast (+8pts)

Frank’s Emotion (-3pts)

Jimmy Hoffa (+6pts)

Too Long (-8pts)

Peggy (+2pts)

Side Characters (-3pts)

movie-review-the-irishman

Pro: The Cast (+8pts)

The cast was really the best thing going for this movie. There was Robert De Niro in the lead role, and both Joe Pesci and Al Pacino playing supporting characters for him, and mentor characters for Frank. As much of a draw as it would have been to have any of these three actors in a mob movie like this one, having all three was something truly special. The movie was a long one, but the cast made it seem like a worthy investment of my time.

Then I watched the movie, and I had my issues with Robert De Niro’s character, but whenever any of these three actors were on screen together, their chemistry commanded the screen. I could feel the weight of what they were talking about, I could feel the power that these characters had at their disposal, I could feel the characters’ history with one another, I could feel the tensions rising between them, and it made for a lot of truly captivating scenes. The aging and de-aging special effects wete mind-blowing at times, but that was really just cosmetic. These three iconic actors playing these three characters was very easily the best thing about this movie.

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Con: Frank’s Emotion (-3pts)

Frank did not convey much emotion throughout the movie. I understand that the character had his fair share of fear and emotional pain, but the character was not one to show his emotion. I thought Robert De Niro did a good job of subtly showing his character’s emotion, but at the end of the day, Frank was a fairly emotionless character. This would have been fine if they had shown more of the character's emotion at the end of the movie or during some of the key turning points in his story, as it would have shown what this life did to Frank, but that never really happened. I wanted to see what the weight of Frank's actions did to him, I wanted to see the character's regret, and I wanted to see his emotional pain, even if he did not show it to other characters. The character dealt with a lot throughout this movie, and I was waiting for an emotional pay off that never came. I do not mean that I needed to see Frank break down into an emotional tantrum, but I felt that the movie needed some sort of an emotional indication that the events of the story took a toll Frank, but that did not happen.

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Pro: Jimmy Hoffa (+6pts)

I liked this character because of Al Pacino in the role, and because of what he meant to Frank's story. This movie covered a lot of Frank's life. We saw Frank meet Jimmy Hoffa, we saw Frank becoming close with Jimmy Hoffa, and we saw the fate of these characters and their long friendship together. The whole movie was about Frank recalling is alleged involvement in the death of Jimmy Hoffa, so it made sense that Jimmy Hoffa would be a big part of this story. I was surprised by how close these two characters were and the weight that this relationship had on Frank at the end of this movie. This was very much Frank’s story, but Jimmy Hoffa played a big, interesting part in it.

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Con: Too Long (-8pts)

It was not the run-time of three hours and thirty minutes on its own that I had issue with. I have seen three hour movies that felt like two hour movies, and I have seen hour and a half movies that felt like four hour movies. This movie was long, and it unfortunately felt it. To make matters worse, I did not think the story warranted such a long run-time. There were plenty of scenes that could have been cut, but rather than imply literally anything, the filmmakers decided that they needed to show every single little thing on screen, and most of the movie was uneventful.

The filmmakers felt the need to show characters meeting, when nothing important came out of those meetings, and they felt the need to show random conversations and interactions that meant absolutely nothing to the story. These scenes were not entirely boring, but they were unnecessary and there was just so many of them. This made the three and a half hour movie feel like a five hour movie, and it was quite honestly a struggle to get through. It was a long and relatively uneventful movie, and the filmmakers easily could have cut it down to about an hour and forty minutes. To give some context, I at one point felt like I had already watched the movie for well over three hours, only to check the time and discover that I had only been watching it for an hour and fifteen minutes. I am all for long movies if the story calls for it, but this one certainly did not call for it, and stretching the plot out as much as they did made the already long run-time feel much, much longer.

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Pro: Peggy (+2pts)

Given how many pointless side-characters were in this movie, I was a little bummed to see how little focus Peggy's story got. Peggy (Anna Paquin) was Frank's daughter, and the filmmakers touched on the impact that Frank's life had on her and what she thought of him as a result. The filmmakers really could have dove deeper into this character, what Frank's lifestyle did to her, and what Peggy's view of Frank did to him, but they sort of just glossed over the whole thing. I am not saying that this movie had to be all Peggy and Frank, but I think diving deeper into this complicated relationship would have made for a much more compelling story than the one we got.

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Con: Side Characters (-3pts)

In a movie this long that covered such a large span of a character’s life, I expected there to be a lot of side characters in this movie. Unfortunately, there were just way too many poorly developed ones, and it led to a number of scenes in which it was hard to follow who was working for who and what their roles were in Frank’s story. These side characters would come and go, and they would get replaced with others that would come and go, and I did not care about any of them. I really think the filmmakers should have cut a lot of these useless side characters to reduce the run-time and to better develop the remaining ones, so that I actually knew who some of these people were.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: C+ (77pts)

The Irishman was not a bad movie, but it was unnecessarily long. Having a long run-time is not necessarily a problem, as long as the filmmakers can keep their audiences entertained for the movie's duration. However, this was a three hour and thirty minute movie, that felt like a five hour movie. It was filled with unnecessary scenes and unnecessary side characters, and it was simply way longer than it needed to be. The filmmakers easily could have cut this movie down to under two hours, based on the material they had, and the result would have been far more refined and captivating movie.

I would have liked to have seen more emotion from Frank, and I would have liked to have seen Peggy and Frank's relationship developed further, but the movie's length was easily its biggest issue. Fortunately, the filmmakers had a fantastic cast, with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, who came together to make this movie a lot more compelling than it would have been without any one of them. I also liked the primary story, which was about Jimmy Hoffa's impact on Frank's life. There was a pretty good story here, and a great cast, but the filmmaker's inability to cut the movie's run-time down made for an very unnecessarily long and drawn out movie, that was at times boring and honesty a struggle for me to get through.

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