After a limited Theatrical Release, The Irishman is finally out worldwide on Netflix and throughout this, we’re gonna be breaking down everything that you need to know about the movie.
This is a sort of recap of the entire film or rather a TL:DR of the 3 and a half hour epic and throughout we’re gonna be giving our thoughts on the movie and it’s ending.
There will be heavy spoilers here so if you haven’t had a chance to watch The Irishman yet and don’t want to know what happens then I highly suggest that you turn off now.
With that out the way I just wanna give a huge thank you for clicking this video, now let’s get into our breakdown of The Irishman.
I Heard You Paint Houses
Ok so the Irishman picks up with real-life World War Two veteran, Frank Sheeran, played by Robert De Niro recounting his life as a hitman for the mafia.
The Irishman is based on the book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt and whilst this line is initially a description of the character’s job as we see throughout the film it quickly becomes a codeword for basically painting the walls of a house red with blood.
In real life, Sheeran was born in Darby Pennsylvania and his father Thomas was himself a house painter…like an actual house painter and along with his mother Mary, he had a relatively simple childhood.
Sheeran joined the American army in 1941 and was a member of the 45th Infantry which was known as ‘The Killer Division.’
The real Sheeran stated that it was in combat that he first became nonchalant to the taking of human life and he admitted to taking part in several summary executions of German war prisoners which by definition made him a war criminal though he was never tried.
Sheeran coldly compared the shooting of a German prisoner, which he was often told to do by his U.S. Officers to the orders that he was given when part of the mafia and this mindstate allowed him to carry out many murders as we see throughout the film.
There’s a moment where he makes soldiers dig their own graves before killing them and it really shows how once murder becomes customary as it did for many soldiers, it becomes difficult to attach any humanity to it.
The Irishman Plot Recap
There’s sort of a flashback within a flashback and Frank recounts a road trip that feels like a stroll down memory lane. However, the plot really kicks off in the 1950s when we join Sheeran distributing meat deliveries for a company known as Food Fair to Pennsylvanian businesses.
After breaking down on the road, Frank is helped by a man named Russell played by Joe Pesci who helps him out but refuses to give his name.
De-aging Got You Raging
Now from the off, I think most people will be taken aback or rather not taken aback by the de-aging technology that the film uses. The effects are seamless and if you didn’t know that the majority of the makeup was CGI then I doubt you would even really notice. I heard mixed things about their implementation with some saying that they didn’t really work but honestly I really thought that they worked well throughout the movie and it’s a highlight of just how far the technology has come on since it’s introduction in the MCU…even if Scorsese hates those movies.
Anyway Frank gets in bed with the mob, running similar deliveries for local gangsters, stealing directly from his company in order to allow them to run their supply chain.
Frank gets greedy and after delivering an empty truck one day he is accused of company theft but he manages to get off with it due to his lawyer Bill Bufalino and the fact that he refuses to give up any names of the gangsters, thus rendering the case null and void.
After this, Bufalino introduces Frank to the head of the northeast Pennsylvania crime family who is none other than Russell who he begins to work for, gradually scaling up into shakedowns, extortion, and murder.
Robert De Niro
De Niro completely knocks it out of the park and due to the effects, this is like watching the actor in his prime, delivering a cold faced performance that definitely feels like a strong oscar contender especially because he had to do about 200 takes of him throwing a gun into a lake. There are some moments where you can see the actor is struggling with his age, namely when he beats up a shop keeper but on the whole, keeping him as a man that is slightly over the hill was a smart choice that means the work isn’t that jarring.
Even the side characters played by the likes of Harvey Keitel, Fat Damon and Bobby Cannavale all provide nuances to their performances and an undertone of darkness that makes the tense moments even that much more intimidating.
Soon Sheeran comes face to face with Jimmy Hoffa, played expertly by Al Pacino.
Al Pacino is one of the only actors that could have pulled this role off and due to his stature he relishes the part exceeding at filling the shoes of the person labeled as ‘The Most Powerful Man In The Country’ next to The President. He’s charming when the moment calls for it, playing dumb with a smirk on his face in order to get past the authorities and he’s probably my favorite out of the cast.
He charms Frank’s daughter Peggy who is later played by Anna Paquin which plays into the eventual ending of the movie which I’ll get into further down the recap.
As I’m sure many of you know Hoffa was heavily involved in organized crime and the infamous figure is arguably one of the first names that come up when you look up gangsters from the 100 years, up there with the likes of Al Capone and Mark Zuckerberg.
He knows your DMs.
Hoffa disappeared without a trace in 1975 and this movie offers its theories to what really happened though we will never know the truth completely.
The movie kinda paints out Hoffa as a man that knows he has to get his hands dirty but only when it’s necessary whereas you get the idea that Frank sometimes goes out of his way to do what he does best.
The International Brotherhood Of Teamsters
Anyway, at the time of their introduction, Hoffa was the head of the International Brotherhood Of Teamsters and due to his union activities, he struggles with the rise of another Teamster head as well as pressure from the government. This leads him to recruit Frank as a bodyguard.
After the Presidential election of 1960, JFK is elected and this angers Hoffa immensely due to the fact that his brother Robert puts out a ‘Get Hoffa’ squad that attempts to bring him down.
Juxtaposing this Russell loves the election of Kennedy as he sees to benefit from having him take down Fidel Castro which as we see in the film doesn’t work.
Frank becomes a Union president of the Local 326 and an assassination attempt is made upon Hoffa in a courtroom which he uses as a huge PR opportunity.
The Assassination Of JFK
Now the movie stages the Kennedy Assassination which Hoffa dismisses and disrespects by putting the flag at half-mast. The movie doesn’t offer up the theory that the mob may have been involved in the assassination of JFK but in an interview with The Daily Beast, De Niro said that he himself got the impression that Sheeran knew the truth of the murder and in some ways the Mob was connected. Sheeran himself said that though he had nothing to do with the assassination, he did transport rifles that may have been used in it.
Though we will never know what really happened, Hoffa is arrested for Jury tampering in 1964 and his replacement in the Teamsters, Frank Fitzsimmons begins overspending the union’s money. A high ranking mob boss named Anthony Provenzo, played by the U.K’s own Stephen Graham is arrested by the FBI and sentenced to prison for extortion which puts him in jail with Hoffa. The two have a huge fallout and there also divisions amongst the mob created.
This leads to Frank killing real-life mob figure Joe Gallo on his birthday. Similar to how the movie portrays it, Gallo visits Umberto’s Clam House and was murdered there. Gallo was shot three times in the restaurant before trying to draw fire away from his family. Though Frank confessed to this in real life, other accounts have stated that there were in fact four gunmen that entered Umberto’s and killed him.
We don’t know what really happened though…which is sort of becoming a catchphrase of this article so I thought I’d give both sides of the story. The film also changes events about slightly as in the movie, Hoffa is pardoned in 1971 by Richard Nixon, though Gallo wasn’t killed until 1972 which this movie re-orders.
As part of his release, Hoffa is forbidden from taking part in Teamster activities. He has another meeting with Provenzo that blows over when Pro asks for an apology in exchange for an endorsement. Hoffa openly disrespects other crime families and this leads to them being upset with him.
The Fall Of A Legend
You can really start to see things heat and it’s sort of that point in every mob movie that you can see things start to turn for the characters. Now at this point, I do think that you start to feel the movie’s length and it does wane slightly with similar plot motifs repeating from earlier in the movie. Had I watched this in the cinema I don’t know if it would have been as comfortable a watch, however, on Netflix when you can pause it, go to the toilet, go for lunch, go for a 10 mile run, read the entire Lord Of The Rings trilogy and come back and it’s still on for you to rewind, definitely feels like the best way to watch it.
In Dolby Vision the film looks fantastic and this definitely feels like the exclusive that Netflix needs right now in order to compete with Disney Plus. Watching De Niro and Pacino together again having fully fleshed-out scenes together feels like a long time coming and though Heat may be remembered as the film where the two really made their mark, here is where they get the most screen time together and therefore play off each other in a way that we’ve always wanted to see.
Russell warns Hoffa that the crime families aren’t pleased with him but the latter completely dismisses him and when speaking with Frank, Hoffa says that he’s untouchable because he has information on all of the mob. He states that would lead to them all going to prison or to school, should anything happen to him which plays into the final act of the movie.
The Death Of Jimmy Hoffa
We then learn that the entire road trip has been on the way to Bill Bufalino’s daughter’s wedding. This is seen as an opportunity as a way to straighten everything out but Hoffa says that he won’t be in attendance and he turns down the offer to do a meeting before later scheduling a dinner with Provenzo through a mobster known as Tony Jock.
That night Russell tells Frank that the green light has been given on Hoffa and that the mob will be getting rid of him. Frank who already agreed to meet him arrives to pick Hoffa up, much to his surprise and in the car, he has Hoffa’s foster son Chuckie O’Brien and another gangster. They inform Hoffa that the meeting has been moved and Frank tells Hoffa that it will be ok which sways him to get in the car.
Upon arriving at the house, Hoffa finds it empty and turns round to try and get out before Frank shoots him killing him in the process.
It’s a real quick moment that just feels like a huge turn in the film even though you knew it it was coming. Frank always did paint hoses well but this one feels like a job that he should have never gotten involved in.
Later that night the cleanup crew arrive and dispose of his body at a crematorium.
The Real-Life Story
The real-life disappearance of the figure echoes the events of the movie with Hoffa originally agreeing to meet Pro at the Machus Red Fox. In Hoffa’s last communication he said: “Tony Jocks set this meeting up, and he’s an hour and a half late.”
We do see a hint at this call in the movie with Hoffa walking from a payphone.
Not long after, Hoffa left the restaurant and was never seen again. His car was found in the parking lot abandoned the next day and Provenzo denied ever scheduling a meeting with him.
Hoffa’s true killers have never been identified and yep…say it with me…we don’t know what really happened.
Chuck O’Brien was questioned as in 2001 the FBI matched DNA from Hoffa to fibers found in his car though due to the fact that they could not determine when this was and were unable to close the case on it.
The Irishman Ending
Frank and co go to the wedding and Peggy cuts herself off from her father who she knows was complicit in the death of Hoffa due to the fact he hasn’t called Hoffa’s wife to talk about it and thus this shows he doesn’t care because he knows about what really happened.
Peggy stops talking to him and we learn that the mob members that survived were all convicted on various charges as Hoffa stated though they are unconnected from his disappearance. They all die in prison of old age except for Frank who outlives his sentence and joins a retirement home.
Frank tries to reach out to Peggy but she never speaks to him every again and the movie ends with him waiting for a slow, drawn-out and isolated death that sees him looking over the things that he lost due to his choices. Hoffa has been forgotten as has he and his life ends with loss rather than pride over what he did.
In prison, Russell tells Frank that it was a choice between them and Jimmy and that he chose them, however, due to this selfish decision that saw them turn on their friend they have had to live out long, lonely lives stuck behind bars.
Frank died in 2003 at the age of 83 from cancer taking the truth of some of the most mysterious elements of his life to the grave with him.
When giving an interview for the book I Heard You Paint Houses, Frank did apparently confess to being complicit in the death of Hoffa though a later forensic investigation of the house was unable to match any of the blood there with him.
What happened we will never really know but this fictional version of the character’s downfall is still a really enjoyable ride.
The Irishman Review
As mentioned earlier I think that had this been more than a limited release theatrically, I think that the movie could have been cut down, however, presented on Netflix it feels like the best way to watch it.
This is a classic Scorsese mob movie that has the dark humor that he is often known for such as people’s deaths appearing as captions on them throughout the movie.
Anyway, this all comes together to feel like a movie that chronicles not only the last century but also it’s darker side.
The Irishman is a brilliant movie and it’s easy to see why it’s getting so much praise in almost every outlet.
Scorsese has done it again and he has assembled a brilliant cast together that really makes this feel like a swan song, though I think that we will see more work of this caliber from the cast.
Overall don’t let the length of this film put you off. This is the one to watch this week and it gets a…
Now obviously I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Irishman so make sure you leave your review in the comments section below.