27 November 2019 | CarsonTrent
Weak by any standard but by Scorsese it's very
Sadly a sub-par effort from one of my all time favorite directors. The story is weak (by Scorsese standard) and overly stretched. I can understand the appeal to revisit his trademark Italian gangster genre one more time, but this one feels unnecessary. The also trademark Scorsese humor is in-existent (except for the painting walls bit). De Niro looks disoriented, in the worst physical (hunched over almost the whole movie) and acting shape ever and out of place. Not very surprising, either. He spent the better part of the last 15 to 20 years doing mock impressions of himself which after the novelty faded ended him up in a series of quite dubious productions. That's a very long time to lower the bar and obviously takes its toll.
The De-aging technique is unconvincing when the actors move. Their faces look animated, fake. There is little and uninspired music. Keitel looks fantastic but is underused. Pacino kinda overacts on occasion. Pesci looks fantastic and is in top form acting-wise but he's also in a supporting role (he's the best part of the movie) so he doesn't have a big impact on the movie. Romano is in top form but his part is also small.
The movie is slow, linear, extremely long, predictable (how often have we seen the Hoffa story on screen? a superior version starring Nicholson comes to mind) and dull. There isn't much going on action-wise. A lot of innuendo and he said they said, but aside some quite dull hit-jobs where de Niro is supposed to be in his prime but moves like a 75 year old the story is quite static. The dialog is stale. Stunts are weak to say the least (Pacino's double excessively hiding his face when he hits the floor in a fight and obviously wearing a wig and body padding, and the store owner more than obviously throwing himself through the window of the store while De Niro clumsily mimics hitting him around come to mind, rendering those scenes borderline laughable). Colors, interiors, costumes are all in shades of beige. Camera work is rigid. Plus the Hoffa story is old news to begin with, there are so many insane things going on right now and would translate better to the screen in 2019. The edgy fast paced crazy energy of the more recent Wolf of Wall Street (not to mention his earlier masterpieces Casino, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Mean Streets or Goodfellas etc) seems that of a different director.
All in all the weakest film in Scorsese's portfolio and not above a 6 stars out of 10 by any standard (I'm inclined to be lenient mainly because he managed to bring Pesci out of retirement for this. But by Scorsese standard it's well below that). It's more of a self-indulgent piece of nostalgia best left unmentioned when it's all said and done. And I'm hopeful that Marty will surprise us with more of his best work in the future and we can sweep this one under the rug.