Bat­tle sta­tions

WAR FILM MID­WAY HITS THE BIG SCREEN

Evening Times - - TIMESOUT -

De Niro snags the melodic voiceover here, de­liv­er­ing ex­pertly pol­ished one-lin­ers – “Usu­ally three peo­ple can keep a se­cret only when two of them are dead” – with his trade­mark growl.

His long-awaited on-screen re­u­nion with Pesci lights the fuse on a daz­zling dis­play of ver­bal fire­works.

Al Pa­cino scorches ev­ery frame as bul­ly­ing Hoffa, who re­fuses to cede con­trol of the Team­sters – “This is my union!” – and pays a sick­en­ingly high price for his hubris.

Scors­ese’s long-time ed­i­tor Thelma Schoon­maker over­charges our pa­tience with a run­ning time – three-and-a-half hours – that feels al­most as bloated as some of the tit­u­lar heavy’s life­less vic­tims.

Sec­ond World War vet­eran Frank Sheeran (De Niro) earns a tidy wage for his fam­ily as a meat truck de­liv­ery driver.

In good time, he catches the eye of Penn­syl­va­nia crime boss Rus­sell Bu­falino (Pesci), who utilises the for­mer sol­dier’s skill-set to elim­i­nate ri­vals, which Frank refers to as “paint­ing houses” by virtue of the lurid red splat­ter on walls

Frank does Rus­sell’s bid­ding and earns the nick­name The Ir­ish­man as he tosses one firearm af­ter an­other into the river.

“If they ever send divers down there, they can arm a small coun­try,” quips Frank.

The Ir­ish­man wins the re­spect of king­pin An­gelo Bruno (Har­vey Kei­tel) and be­comes a close ally of the sec­ond most pow­er­ful man in Amer­ica af­ter the pres­i­dent: Jimmy Hoffa (Pa­cino).

How­ever, Frank can­not charm his daugh­ter Peggy (Anna Paquin), whose silent dis­ap­proval cre­ates a chilly di­vide be­tween the gen­er­a­tions.

The Ir­ish­man in­vests a size­able chunk of the re­ported $150mil­lion bud­get in dis­tract­ing dig­i­tal trick­ery to de-age the sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian cast.

Their youth­ful sheen even­tu­ally gels with Scors­ese’s di­rec­to­rial brio and im­pec­ca­ble pe­riod de­tail, which marks the film as a fron­trun­ner for Os­car recog­ni­tion.

De Niro, Pesci, Pa­cino et al pos­ture and snarl through decades of fra­ter­nal bond­ing with pre­dictable in­ten­sity and fury.

When bruised egos col­lide and sinews throb in claus­tro­pho­bic close-up, we can con­vince our­selves that the film’s ex­ces­sive grandeur is tol­er­a­ble.

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