2019 has been a great year for movies and The Irishman keeps up the streak. Scorsese's direction is organized and every piece of information given to the viewer is valuable from start to finish. Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List) writes another superb screenplay for the audience to fully familiarize themselves with the many characters in this story. I would encourage anyone who gets the chance to see the film on the big screen to run to the closest cinema and get a seat before the movie is solely on Netflix. There is value in sitting through the whole plot without distraction, although this is probably the lengthiest film I have seen in a theater to date. The direction never dwells for too long in one spot, but also never feels too rushed.
The characters are all rich with background and it is easy to get lost in the world of organized crime within the first thirty minutes of the film. Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver), Joe Pesci (My Cousin Vinny), and Al Pacino (The Godfather) are the trifecta of mob actors. The de-aging process used for each of them never really shows and it's likely because the acting is so good. The facial expressions of the characters are never exaggerated, and at times I wondered if De Niro truly is a gangster in hiding. The big story here was that De Niro and Scorsese were somehow able to convince Pesci to come out of retirement for this film, and we are given a lot to thank them for that. It would be hard for any other actors to portray such a story with the smooth dynamic between the three leads. Rounding out the cast, there are also notable performances by Anna Paquin (X-Men), Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales), Bobby Canavale (Ant-Man, Blue Jasmine), Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Pulp Fiction), Jesse Plemons (Game Night, The Master), and Ray Romano (The Big Sick, Ice Age). With all of these actors and characters hitting the screen, it is already clear why the film had to be more than three hours in length.
The writing for the film also deserves a lot of praise. The script is clever, dramatic, and occasionally even funny. This is the mob universe that Scorsese has built and is highly acclaimed for. At times you feel sympathetic for the characters, but then you sit back for a moment and realize that these are criminals. The film is an emotional ride, that constantly makes you think about what each character stands for. From the premise, I never thought that I would be sympathetic to Frank Sheeran, but by the end I found myself in that exact position. Therefore credit is due to the screenplay, setting up a movie that can be discussed for more than it's lengthy runtime.
The Bottom Line: Everyone should see this film on the biggest screen they can and sit through the whole thing without distraction. This is only fair for such an accomplishment by the partnership of Scorsese, Zaillan, and the many actors that can keep an audience engaged for 3.5 hours.
By che(Please credit as "Petr Novák, Wikipedia" in case you use this outside Wikimedia projects.) - che, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4443635
By David Shankbone - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2000640