Martin Scorsese‘s new epic The Irishman could end up being one of the best-reviewed films of the Oscar-winner’s career. Following its Friday night premiere at the New York Film Festival, The Irishman stands at 100 percent “Fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics praising the three-and-a-half-hour film as a yet another mob drama masterpiece by the Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed director.
The praise comes despite early online concerns (and a bit of mockery) about the film’s heavy use of de-aging technology to tell a story about three men (played by Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci) over a period of decades. The consensus: Sure, the de-aging can be a bit jarring at first, but you quickly get used to it and settle into the story.
The film inspired by real-life events stars De Niro as World-War-II-veteran-turned-mob-hitman Frank Sheeran, Pesci as Russell Bufalino, and Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa.
Here are some of the reviews:
EW (Leah Greenblatt): “It’s only as the film enters its final devastating chapters that the full weight of Frank’s actions begin to register as something more than names on a coroner’s sheet. And that’s where The Irishman finds its deepest, truest place: not as whiz-bang mafia caper or a sprawling, starry history lesson, but as a meditation on mortality — both for the real lives unfolding on onscreen, and the actors who’ve spent their own lives turning these stories into something more than real; they’ve made them ours.”
Variety (Owen Gleiberman): “A coldly enthralling, long-form knockout — a majestic Mob epic with ice in its veins. It’s the film that, I think, a lot us wanted to see from Scorsese: a stately, ominous, suck-in-your-breath summing up, not just a drama but a reckoning, a vision of the criminal underworld that’s rippling with echoes of the director’s previous Mob films, but that also takes us someplace bold and new.”
Time (Stephanie Zacharek): “Some mornings you may wake up and think, The last thing I’m in the mood for are more stories about men doing manly things. And you may feel that way the morning of the day you see The Irishman—but don’t be surprised if you feel differently by day’s end …a movie about betrayal and regret and loss, and it’s moving in a way Goodfellas is not. An old man couldn’t have made that movie, just as a younger one couldn’t have made this one.”
The New York Post (Johnny Oleksiski): “… chug a 5-hour Energy, because the terrific Irishman deserves your full, un-fatigued attention … This has a different tone than your average gangster film. Plenty of marks are shot in the forehead, yes, and a lot of wine is poured in the corner booths of dimly lit Italian restaurants, but it’s also knock-down, drag-out-into-the-river funny.”
Indiewire (Eric Kohn): “The Irishman is Martin Scorsese’s best crime movie since Goodfellas, and a pure, unbridled illustration of what has made his filmmaking voice so distinctive for nearly 50 years. Forget that it’s a touch too long and the much-ballyhooed de-aging technology doesn’t always cast a perfect spell; the movie zips along at such a satisfying clip that its flaws rarely amount to more than mild speed bumps along the way.”
BBC (Caryn James): “The Irishman, isn’t Goodfellas Light or Goodfellas 2, it is more an inverse Goodfellas. The protagonist of that 1990 film revelled in the money and camaraderie of a Mafia life until it caught up with him in the end. But the deep, resonant, and even witty, Irishman depicts the sociopathic underpinnings and damage of that life from the start…. The Irishman is more than a trick of nostalgia. Spanning a period from the 1950s through to 2000, it offers a sharp look at how corruption in politics and business makes its way into US life.”
The New York Times (A.O. Scott): “The movie is long and dark: long like a novel by Dostoyevsky or Dreiser, dark like a painting by Rembrandt….The business of graft, extortion and influence peddling occupies all these men, but “The Irishman” finds its emotional center in the vicissitudes of their friendship. This is Scorsese’s least sentimental picture of mob life, and for that reason his most poignant.”
The Hollywood Reporter (David Rooney): “A melancholy sense of looking back also pervades the best parts of The Irishman, in which the elder statesman of organized crime in American movies, Martin Scorsese, reunites with his most totemic screen actor to tell a sprawling gangland saga that’s by turns flinty, amusing and richly nostalgic…But the feeling remains that the material would have been better served by losing an hour or more to run at standard feature length, or bulking up on supporting-character and plot detail to flesh out a series.”
Uproxx (Mike Ryan): “People will want to see The Irishman because of De Niro, Pesci, and Pacino all in a mob movie again, directed by Martin Scorsese. And, boy, yes, that’s there. In the scenes where they are younger, the de-aging is … pretty good. I’d say the best I’ve seen so far. But it’s one of those things that if you stare at it, yes, you can see the imperfections – especially when De Niro or Pesci are acting alongside, say, a non-de-aged Ray Romano. But you do get used to it. And the way I look at this is, well, this is the small price to pay to get all these actors together again to tell this story. To star in Martin Scorsese’s phenomenal film about the price we all pay for our sins of youth … even if you or I didn’t kill Jimmy Hoffa. The Irishman is terrific and Netflix got their money’s worth.”
The Irishman will premiere in limited theaters Nov. 1, before coming to Netflix on Nov. 27.
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