By Don Morton
A coldly enthralling mob masterpiece
December 9, 2019
Martin Scorsese’s sweeping, melancholy tale about Mafia misdeeds in the 1950s, a convincing and introspective suggestion as to the (still unknown) fate of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, is an instant gangster classic, right up there with The Godfather (I and II, anyway) and Goodfellas.
The legendary director’s late-career mob masterpiece is a decades-spanning journey through hidden channels, personalities, rivalries and covert political connections. It centers on Robert De Niro’s (sensational) Frank Sheeran, a mid-level leg breaker who took his orders mainly from Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci, who’s still got it). Al Pacino nails the overconfident, solipsistic Hoffa character, and Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano and Bobby Cannavale provide support (see if you can spot Steven Van Zandt, as a noted crooner).
Not nearly as flashy or violent as the director’s five previous gangster movies, but superbly confident, witty, subtle and most of all mature. It’s three and a half hours long but never sags, and is worth every minute, especially the slowed-down last half hour, and the spot-on final scene (and its message).
Netflix gave this movie a stateside theatrical release of only a few weeks (and none in Japan) before streaming it online, and for a movie this long, I think it was the right decision.