Netflix & Chill #70: The Irishman

Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2019
Starring: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Rotten Tomatoes: Tomatometer 96%/Audience Score 86%
Pick: Mine

The movie opens with an elderly man, whom we learn is Frank Sheeran (Robert DeNiro) recounting his time as a Mafia hitman-- the movie then flashes back to the 1950s in Philadelphia. Sheeran, a delivery truck driver, starts to divert some of his deliveries to the local crime family. His company accuses him of theft, but a union lawyer, Bill Bufalino (Ray Romano) gets him off after Sheeran refuses to give the judge the names of his customers. He then gets introduced to Bill's cousin, Russell (Joe Pesci) and Sheeran starts to do jobs for the local crime family including murders (or, as people like to refer to it as "painting houses.")

Russell eventually introduces Sheeran to President of the Teamsters, Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino) who has ties with the Bufalino crime family and is fighting both rivals within the Teamsters and rising pressures from the federal government- Sheeran and his family become so close with Hoffa that Sheeran eventually becomes Hoffa's chief bodyguard.

1960 rolls around and while Russell and his colleagues are thrilled at the election of John F. Kennedy, Hoffa is not. Robert F. Kennedy, who becomes Attorney General in his brother's administration has formed a 'Get Hoffa' squad to bring him down and in 1964 they finally do and Hoffa goes to prison for jury tampering. While Hoffa is in prison, his successor Frank Fitzsimmons (Gary Basaraba) starts overspending the Teamsters' pension funds and making interest free loans to the Mafia. His relationship with his rival Teamster, Anthony Prvenzano (Stephen Graham) also breaks down as well. Eventually, he gets out thanks to a pardon from Richard Nixon in 1971 but can't take part in any Teamsters activities until 1980.

Despite the terms of his pardon and parlone, Hoffa starts plotting to regain his former position and his growning hostility toward Teamster leaders and crime family interests starts to worry Russell. At a testimonial dinner in Sheeran's honor, Russel has Sheeran confront Hoffa who tells him that the heads of the crime families aren't happy with him. Hoffa informs Sheeran that he 'knows things' and that he's untouchable, because if anything happened to him, the Dons would end up in prison.

Which brings Sheeran to 1975, while on the way to the wedding of Bill's daughter, Russell tells him that Hoffa's death has been sanctioned and that they want Sheeran to do it. He takes a small plane to Detroit, and finds Hoffa to take him to a prearranged meeting- ostensibly with  Provenzano and Russell, but once he gets him in the house, shoots him instead. Hoffa's body is disposed of, Sheeran and the others go to prison and one by one all the old mob bosses start dying off. Sheeran gets out though, and despite his best efforts can reconcile with some of his daughters, but not Peggy (Anna Paquin) who cuts all contact with him. In a nursing home, he recieves confession from a Priest and as he's leaving for the Christmas holidays, Sheern asks him to leave the door open a little, just like Hoffa used too-- and then Priest departs, leaving Sheeran alone.

Overall: I've never been a huge fan of crime dramas/Mafia movies. I've only even seen bits of the Godfather movies, Casino, Goodfellas... I've seen like a second of Scarface, if that. So this isn't my usual wheelhouse- but if this qualifies as a genre, then Scorsese is the unquestioned master of it. The cast is also at the top of their game-- whatever you feel about the digital de-aging effects used in the movie, Pacino, DeNiro and Pesci feels like the band getting back together for one last ride- and what a ride it is. Pesci is unbelievably good in this.

I was impressed with the final third or so of the movie, which included the death of Jimmy Hoffa. If you do a side by side comparison of the wiki-entry of Hoffa's last known whearabouts, I think you'd be impressed at the level of detail and accuracy that went into it. (Of course, after he leaves the restaurant, we don't really know what happens- but it feels all too plausible.)

If there's one quibble I have with this movie, it's probably the length, because holy shit this did not need to be three hours long. But if that's all you can find to complain about, I'd still say My Grade: *** 1/2 out of ****


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