Legendary director Martin Scorsese’s (The Departed, Taxi Driver) latest film is part of the of late Netflix trend to just release a film briefly in theatres to then host it on the streaming service. Things are changing quickly in the film world with CGI improvements and streaming services like Netflix beginning to play a big part.
Bottom line is do not be deterred by the fact that the film wasn’t in theatres for long. It is all part of the plan. It has one of the highest ratings of the year on Rotten Tomatoes with a 96%. A film for real film fans. Long at 3.5 hours, it takes some sticking power (or breaking it down to into a couple of sessions) as it is almost double the length of your average film.
The film is full value for its 96%. A very well done film. A film which allows you to witness Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci chew up scenery together. The fact that Pacino, De Niro and Pesci are all in the same film is reason enough to watch it. Especially Pesci as he had pretty much retired and only starred in two previous films this whole decade. Good to see him back. A shocking thing I learned was that this was the first time Pacino and Scorsese had worked together. Unbelievable. He has a tough job taking on the legendary character of Jimmy Hoffa, but you never see him sweat (actingwise).
The three represent some of the best actors of their generation and some of the all-time premiere crime/gangster/mafia actors. Here they lend the right tone to the characters they play. Proper tone and realism which is required in a film like this. You have to believe the brutality and power these three possessed in order to fully immerse yourself into the story. All three have to play their characters over a span of several decades.
Besides the primary trio the rest of the large cast is nothing to sneeze at. You get Ray Romano, Harvey Keitel, Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, and Jesse Plemons as well.
On top of all the talent in front of the camera, you get one of the best directors of all time, Martin Scorsese. Crime drama has made up a large portion of Scorsese’s career with him directing films like Goodfellas, Mean Streets, The Departed, Gangs of New York, Casino, and even an episode of the television series Boardwalk Empire. Plenty of experience bringing to the big screen the story of criminals. Even at the age of 77 he continues to have a passion for making films.
Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro – Raging Bull, Cape Fear) learned how to kill during World War II as he fought in Italy. Once back, in order to support his family, he turns to what he knows. After a long career as a man who committed crimes and kills for the mob, he is now in a retirement home confessing his sins to a priest. Telling the tale of his life and his connection with and part he played in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino – The Godfather, Dog Day Afternoon).
While there is a good amount of action or violence here, it really is about aging and looking back on your life. A different kind of gangster film. Really a nod to the age and life situation for Scorsese, Pacino, De Niro, and Pesci. As such there is not much pizzazz rather it is an observational style film. Focusing on the characters rather than the violence they are involved in.
Despite the slower pace of the film it is still engrossing. Don’t mistake the relative quietness of the film for it being boring. Based on the memoir of Frank Sheeran, the film brings you through plenty of what happened in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s like the politics of the Kennedy brothers, the assassination of JFK, the power of the Teamsters during these decades, and how the Italian mafia’s reach was far and wide.
Well made and fascinating. Leaves you wondering how much of it is the truth or truth adjacent.