Are We Sure ‘The Irishman’ Will Be Good?

Netflix released the official trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman earlier today.

The Irishman tells the story of trucker-turned-mobster Frank Sheehan (Robert De Niro) and the Teamsters Union’s legendary president Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino). A Scorsese film starring a bunch of legendary actors synonymous with mob cinema is enough to get movie fans excited.

But the star-studded lineup distracts from the trailer’s biggest revelation—The Irishman doesn’t look very good.

The movie assembles a gangster movie all-star team, from Mean Street’s Harvey Keitel to Goodfellas’ Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci all the way up to The Godfather’s Al Pacino in his first Martin Scorcese movie. And it leans on Jimmy Hoffa, a character and story Hollywood has danced around before, most prominently in the 1992 Danny DeVito directed Hoffa. It’s a tale juicy enough to run back with a group of mob movie icons.

Still, it’s not clear what makes The Irishman so compelling beyond being a simple throwback mob story. The intense de-aging affects used on De Niro are distracting, raising questions as to why they couldn’t get someone else (maybe Leonardo DiCaprio?) to play his younger self. Even Pesci, making his long awaited big screen comeback, seems muted—a far cry from the violent, boisterous characters that made him a legend in Goodfellas and Casino. Maybe he or DeNiro or Pacino will step up with a vintage performance that steals the movie. But at least in the trailer, the most compelling performance is a character portrayed by Ray Romano.

The Irishman premieres tomorrow at the New York Film Festival before hitting theaters in November. Netflix is taking it along the Roma route, hoping a theatrical release before streaming will help garner some Academy Award buzz. A Scorsese film starring De Niro, Pacino and Pesci hardly needs special treatment to create buzz. But in 2019, it’s fair to wonder if they can recreate mob magic of the past.

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