Scorsese's brilliant gangster magnum opus THE IRISHMAN feels like the perfect culmination of his long history of mob dramas.
Older, more lived in and wiser, Scorsese and his actors bring fresh perspective, new energy and tangible power to this three and a half hour tale.
When a film is this good, it can be five hours long. I was never bored for a moment.
Robert DeNiro stars as Frank Sheeran, a blue collar truck driver not afraid to get his hands dirty in an ever escalating series of thefts and murders.
He quickly comes to the attention of mob power broker Russell Buffalino, perfectly played by Joe Pesci returning to acting after a decade away from the screen.
Russell and Frank's circle eventually overlaps with Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino in a surprisingly restrained but great performance.
if you love "Goodfellas" and "Casino" as much as I do, you may approach this one with a bit of hesitation. Hasn't Scorsese already made the greatest mob films of all time? Why is he going back to that well again?
Scorsese answers with a much deeper dive into each of these men and the families around them.
The running time provides ample opportunity to get to know their circle.
Ray Romano slays another dramatic turn as Russell's brother and mob lawyer. Harvey Keitel and Bobby Cannavale exceed expectations as key gangsters in play. Every cast member (and the cast is massive) is authentic, as is the period production design by Scorsese regular Bob Shaw (The Wolf of Wall Street).
Having watched Danny DeVito's "Hoffa" a couple years ago was interesting background, with this take on the Labor boss going much deeper into his incarceration, ordered killings and reaction to loss of power during his jail time.
Scorsese paints a huge canvas here, bringing in the Kennedys & politics of the day, tortured families and teenagers suddenly realizing what their dads do for a living and the complex web of ever shifting loyalties. Scorsese's brilliance is that he manages to mesh all those plot threads into one seamless, bloody, violent, fascinating tale of power and corruption that never lags.
Steven Zallian (Schindlers List, Gangs of New York) is a terrific screenwriter, weaving in quiet moments along with explosive ones.
DeNiro, Pacino and Pesci are all great, giving their all in what we can all assume is their final journey into the genre that Scorsese nearly invented with "Mean Streets" in 1973, "Goodfellas" in 1990, "Casino" in 1995 and "The Departed" in 2006.
THE IRISHMAN stands shoulder-to-shoulder with each of them as the ultimate mob drama and gets an A+.
"What kind of man does that....." a fine, quiet moment that says it all.