On Youtube, you will find thousands of conspiracy videos ranging from Lady Gaga being a satan worshiping reptilian to the Illuminati. While the wildest of conspiracies can be the juiciest, many people ignore the deep-seated corruption that plays out right in front of their faces. Most people think the mafia only exists in films like The Godfather or tv shows like the Sopranos, the reality is that powerful organizations have been running the world in secret for many decades and pogues like us won’t know their names until they are long dead and their stories are sold to Hollywood to be portrayed as fiction.
Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran may not be a household name but he was a notorious mobster who had ties to the most powerful and dangerous people in the world. Before his death in 2003, Frank spilled the beans on ties to the Bufalino crime family which led to events like the death of Jimmy Hoffa as well as the Kennedy assassination. His confessions were turned into a memoir in 2004 and after years of development hell, the film was greenlit with a legendary cast and the only man trusted to bring out true stories of the mob, the king of cinema Martin Scorsese.
The Irishman is a film about Frank’s life starting as a small town delivery driver in Philly to becoming the right-hand man for one of the biggest crime families in the Northeast. Sheeran becomes a major player in the South Philadelphia underworld is introduced Jimmy Hoffa, the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who has financial ties with the Bufalino crime family.
The elephant in the room is the 3 1/2 hour runtime and no it doesn’t need to be that long. The only gripe with the film is that it should have ended 30 minutes earlier following the death of Hoffa. After that point, the film feels like a blowout football game that doesn’t have much else to offer until the final seconds. With that said, The Irishman is an amazing look into the seedy US history that you don’t learn about in schools. The world of organized crime is brilliantly brought to life by the mind of Martin Scorsese and the performance of Robert De Niro. The Irishman is pure storytelling at it’s finest and it’s the kind of story that can only be told by the remaining members of Hollywood’s old guard.
In front of the camera, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci are the heart of The Irishman. De Niro’s Frank is a morally broken man who thinks he’s doing the right thing for his family. By film’s end, everyone he has ever cared about has either died or removed him from their lives leaving him with nothing but a life of bad decisions. Pacino as the late Jimmy Hoffa provides arguably the most context of his life as the union leader who got in too deep with the mob. Pesci steals the movie as a mild manner crime boss who manages to be a serious presence without being your stereotypical movie gangster.
Scorsese took a lot of heat for saying that Marvel Cinematic Universe films were not cinema and Martin responds by releasing one of the best narrative films of his entire catalog. A film that is the exact antithesis of the big-budget studio machine of the modern era. Knowing the industry’s hostile reaction to Netflix, it is difficult to tell if this film will get the award recognition it deserves but The Irishman is a film that will top list not only for 2019 but the entire 2010s.