‘The Irishman’ Is The Perfect Swan Song To The Mafia Movie Genre

The Irishman has been on our radar for the past four years (from the moment it was added to Al Pacino’s IMDB profile) and Netflix has fully delivered on all of our expectations. We have so many things we want to share between things we were concerned about and what we loved or didn’t love. (Just kidding, because we loved it all!) This is definitely not a spoiler-free zone but we hope you’ll be well prepared for your viewing. 

Let’s break this movie down…

The Runtime

Concern

We were very worried when Netflix announced The Irishman would be a three hour and twenty-nine minute movie. That is longer than Avengers: Endgame. Some reviews have said the movie drags in spots but we disagree. We were drawn into the story for its entirety which really came as a surprise. Honestly, this movie probably wouldn’t work as well if it was cut down too much more because each piece of the plot is important to the overall theme. 

The Star Power and The De-Aging

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It’s fair to say that we’ve all become a little wary of too much star power in a movie or show because more often than not, we get burned. The Irishman brings together director Martin Scorsese with actors: Al Pacino (Jimmy Hoffa), Robert De Niro (Frank Sheeran), and Joe Pesci (Russell Bufalino). That is either a recipe for success or disaster. We are relieved to share that this one is a huge success! 

Another cause for concern was the decision to use CGI to de-age the actors for parts of the film instead of casting younger actors in those roles. We have to admit that it looked pretty good and it was never a distraction from the movie. If we had to pick one thing that looked a little off, it would be young De Niro’s eyes. Somehow, they managed to give him blue eyes that looked like White Walkers from Game of Thrones

The Story

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The Irishman is based on the book title I Heard You Paint Houses (which means killing people) and it’s from the point of view of Frank Sheeran throughout different time periods in his life. This is a tale of regret and growing old with the consequences of our actions. It’s masterful. We have to admit, upfront, that we didn’t know very much about this story other than the name Jimmy Hoffa. We’re not sure how much we know now because movies take liberties, but we want to learn more. 

The beginning of the movie seems to be a section that some say drags but learning Frank’s story before Hoffa enters his life is important. Frank eases his way into the mafia lifestyle by starting with the theft from his company which Ray Romano (Bill Bufalino) lawyers away from the charges before any trouble can come from it. Bill Bufalino is the one who introduces Frank to Russell and that’s where things get more heated. Frank’s life takes a very different turn when he starts working with Hoffa (we’ll get into this more in ‘moments we loved’)

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What was really interesting about The Irishman, and how it tackled mob life, was the effect his work had on his children. Peggy Sheeran, played by Anna Paquin, was especially bothered and it stuck with her into adulthood where she completely stopped communications with her father. Paquin’s lack of lines has caused controversy since the film’s premiere but her silence was an integral part of her character. 

Moments We Loved

Al Pacino’s entire performance was impeccable! We are rarely disappointed by a Pacino performance because he ALWAYS brings his A-Game but his work as Hoffa was truly something special. There are so many great lines from Hoffa throughout the film that there should be a Twitter account devoted to them. We’ll, of course, share a few of our favorites.

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During Hoffa’s trial in Nashville, someone attempts to assassinate him (not a smart move) but his reaction is EVERYTHING. He tackles the man and once the assailant is handled, Hoffa shares some wisdom, “You charge a guy with a gun. With a knife, you run.”

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Every time he interacts with Peggy! We aren’t going to pretend that Hoffa didn’t have any skeletons in his closet but he was the purest of Frank’s circle. Peggy had a sense for people and it’s a consistent theme throughout.

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Pacino and De Niro’s relationship as Hoffa and Sheeran (until the end, of course). These two are some of the best actors around and together they shine. They developed a sort of bromance as their story progressed and we loved it. We’re still shook by Sheeran putting two bullets in Hoffa’s back, heartbroken describes it better. 

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We can’t move on from Pacino without mentioning his (Hoffa’s) love for ice-cream. He was enjoying ice-cream constantly during the movie to the point where it became a staple of the storyline. Pacino joked that he took the role to eat free ice-cream! 

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Pacino wasn’t the only powerhouse in The Irishman. Joe Pesci was phenomenal as Russell Bufalino. We are used to Pesci making us laugh like in My Cousin Vinny but his role here is very different. He does an amazing job but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t hate his character the entire time.

We could go on forever talking about this movie but you probably don’t want to read a novel on The Irishman (or maybe you do). This movie is definitely worth a watch, if not many. You can take breaks or do it all in one sitting, that’s up to you. 

Netflix

Have you watched The Irishman? What did you think? Did you watch it on Netflix or hit up one of the theater showings? We wanted to but we didn’t make it. Share your thoughts on any and all aspects in the comments or on social media!

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