‘The Irishman’ falls flat on his face

“The Irishman” is a 2019 crime film directed and produced by Martin Scorsese, which is based on the book, “I Heard You Paint Houses” written by Charles Brandt. Scorsese is best known for directing mob-centered films, and this movie is no exception.

The film, which was distributed by Netflix, was nominated for 10 Oscars at the 2019 Academy Awards. These nominations included “Best Achievement in Directing,” “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role,” and “Best Adapted Screenplay.” Although the film didn’t win any Oscars, it was well received around the world – winning 68 awards out of 310 nominations.

Even though Scorsese writes the screenplay for a lot of his major films, “The Irishman’s” book-adapted screenplay was written by Steven Zaillian, who won an Oscar in 1994 for the screenplay, “Schindler’s List.”

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci are only a few big names in the star-studded cast.

De Niro stars as Frank Sheeran and Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa.

Participating in a road trip with Hoffa, Sheeran recalls how he began selling some of his shipments to Skinny Razor, a mobster played by Bobby Cannavale, while working as a delivery truck driver. After his boss accuses Sheeran of theft, Bill Bufalino, a union lawyer played by Ray Romano, helps Sheeran win the case.

Afterwards, Bufalino introduces Sheeran to his cousin, Russell Bufalino, and later, Hoffa. Sheeran then proceeds to carry out jobs for Russell, as well as other mob members, which includes “painting houses” for them – in other words, killing people.

Unlike some of my favorite films – “1917” and “Children of Men,” the cinematography in the film is bland and uninspired. Throughout much of the film’s runtime, the camera tracks a character for about 10 seconds before panning off to the side and refocusing on a different person or object. 

Due to the three-and-a-half-hour runtime, I was left feeling quite bored during the last half hour of the film. It felt like sitting through an extra four hours of “Avengers: Endgame.”

Even though the film had top-notch acting, especially from De Niro and Pacino, the pacing always felt a bit off. Whether it was from the frequent cutaways, to the somewhat unbelievable actions of the characters, the film didn’t feel quite right. 

Although the de-aging of the characters during certain scenes wasn’t the best, there were special effects that looked awful. For instance, near the beginning of the film, there is a brief scene in which two army men are shot in World War II after pointlessly digging a hole. As they were shot, two unrealistic-looking blood spurts came out of the bullet wounds – a lousy CGI effect I didn’t dig (no pun intended). 

It was almost as if Netflix had used half of their marketing budget on advertising, rather than making the film itself.

The film was never given a theatrical release, since it went straight to Netflix after production had ended. And due to this, the film barely made back half of its blockbuster-sized budget. While this has nothing to do with the film itself, it’s quite unfortunate that Netflix never released it to the public, despite being a sub-par movie.

“The Irishman” seems like a failed attempt at recapturing the Italian mobster movies, which helped Scorsese rise to the top of inspirational filmmakers. While the movie is far from bad, it doesn’t capture the same authenticity of Scorsese’s previous works. For Scorsese, it is a mediocre film, but is still far more original than many of the films I’ve seen in recent years. Although the film does fall flat on many levels, I’ll still give Scorsese credit for his effort.

Despite its interesting premise, “The Irishman” fails to execute on its audience’s engagement.

C

The film is certainly not a killer hit for Scorsese.