Grandpa Goes Gangster in “The Irishman”

In preparation for the Oscars on February 9th, the Corral will be reviewing every best picture nomination leading up to the awards.


“The Irishman” stars Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino. This movie is most famous for it’s Netflix distribution, classic cast, and de-aging effects.

Trey Williams, Op/Ed Editor

“The Irishman” is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeren, a hit-man that rises through the ranks of organized crime under Russel Bufalino, played by Joe Pesci, while becoming close with union leader Jimmy Hoffa, played by Al Pacino, as he gets tangled into the complicated web of politics, crime, and the mob.

This movie has received a lot of attention for two major reasons. First, the cast. Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro are famous for their performances in the 1990 movie “Goodfellas”. Pesci has come out of retirement for this movie, and this is potentially his last role. Having Al Pacino, famous for “The Godfather” movie as another lead makes this cast star studded. 

This movie has also received a lot of attention due to the de-aging technology used. This movie takes place over decades, and this is one of the first movies to pioneer this technology.

Did this movie live up to the hype?

It did. I loved a lot of things about this movie. I thought that Robert De Niro played the role of an apathetic cog in the mob machine well. Still, the standout for me was Joe Pesci. Pesci was terrifyingly cold in this movie. Pesci doesn’t run around shouting, beating people up. His words were enough. It was chilling whenever he was on screen. 

I also adore the last half-hour of this movie. It took awhile for me to get where the movie was going, but after it got there, I was hit hard. This movie has a lot of stuff going on; you’re introduced to new characters, new plots, and gangster drama left and right. At the end, as the story catches up with the present, the themes regarding toxic masculinity, emotional suppression, and the brevity of life all come together beautifully. 

That being said, I had a few problems with it. This movie is easily the longest of the best picture nominations, clocking in at 210 minutes. While the length of this movie added to the theme and payoff at the end, that doesn’t change the fact that this movie dragged for me. After watching the whole movie, I understand the decisions Scorsese made, but it doesn’t change the fact that I was waiting for the story to get on with it. You really need to prepare yourself for a slow burn with this one. 

Also, the elephant in the room: the de-aging. For me, I thought it was at best decent, at worst distracting. There’s a now infamous scene from the movie where De Niro is beating somebody up when he’s young, and it’s comical how wooden and old his body looks while he’s doing it. 

I also was very distracted with how the aging was relative to everybody else. Some people seem to age much faster than other people. Pesci in particular seems to go from 40 to 70 in just a couple scenes. The families of the three leads of the movie also weren’t aging in a way that made sense. It felt choppy and sudden whenever it happened. 

Still, I think the behemoth of the running time is made worth it by the amazing ending. The acting is fantastic, the dialogue and accents are top-notch, there was some interesting camera work, and the whole movie had that classic Scorsese grit. There’s also a decent amount to analyze, from the symbolism of De Niro’s daughter Peggy to the overall lack of family throughout the whole movie. If you’re into Scorsese and want to see a depressing gangster epic, check this out. I give it a ⅘.