The Irishman Ends an Era for Gangster Films

Scorsese’s latest film shows what others do not.


Saad Khandakar

Caffe Roma is an Italian restaurant used in ‘The Irishman.’

New York’s Martin Scorsese has developed a reputation of being one of the best filmmakers in cinematic history, with a collection of critically-acclaimed films including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and Goodfellas. His newest gangster epic, The Irishman, joins this list with near-perfect ratings of 94% on Metacritic and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. The director reunited with his longtime friends – Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, Joe Pesci – and had his first ever project with Al Pacino. 

 After co-starring in The Godfather: Part II, Heat, and Righteous Kill, DeNiro and Pacino marked their fourth time collaborating on The Irishman. Pesci, known for his roles in Goodfellas and Home Alone, came out of retirement to join a stellar cast for one last ride off into the sunset. While many cherish the collaboration between the Hollywood legends, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Scorsese’s latest film will possibly be the last time we see him and the cast work together. “It’s an end of an era,” said Abu Monaf ’21.

 In the following paragraphs, the plot of the movie will be discussed. So for anybody who hasn’t watched the film yet, expect spoilers to come. 

The film begins in a nursing home, where an old and crippled Sheeran looks back to his prime as a Mafia hitman. His story starts from the bottom, reaches a peak, and goes downhill from there. In 1950s Pennsylvania, Sheeran starts as a truck driver who shipped meat to a local gangster from an Italian crime family. Soon after the risky relationship began, Sheeran was accused of theft, and his career as a hitman began. Russell Buffalino, the head of the Northeastern Pennsylvania crime family, recruits Sheeran after Sheeran’s lawyer, Bill Buffalino, introduces them. 

As Russell and Sheeran’s friendship grows stronger, Sheeran is introduced to Jimmy Hoffa, the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Sheeran recounts Hoffa as one of the most popular and powerful men during his peak. The introduction of Hoffa causes the movie to take a different direction from other mob movies as Sheeran and Hoffa’s friendship emphasizes the politics of the average population than those of underworld crime families. This new friendship begins to pose a major threat to Sheeran and his family due to crime families’ displeasure towards Hoffa and his ideas. While on their way to the wedding of Bill’s daughter, Russell informs Sheeran that Hoffa must be killed and that Sheeran would be the one to get the job done. With great hesitation and emotion, Sheeran had no choice but to kill Hoffa, which he successfully did by shooting him twice at point-blank range. After Sheeran leaves the scene, two other gangsters take Hoffa’s body to a crematorium to burn all traces of him. 

Later down the line, Sheeran, Russell, and others are put behind the bars for different charges, none of which were connected to Hoffa’s murder. One by one, the criminals begin to die, only leaving back Sheeran, who was eventually released and placed in a nursing home. During this time, he tries to make peace with his daughters, who aren’t willing to forgive him for the mistakes he made while they were growing up. Unable to do anything after his release, Sheeran contemplated his previous mistakes in life and the inevitability of his death. In the final clip of the movie, Sheeran’s priest leaves him alone in his room, where he sees himself alone for the rest of his life. The last thing he says to the priest is to leave the door open a little, copying a habit of his former friend Hoffa. 

The Irishman opened its first five days in Netflix with a whopping 17 million viewers, according to the media-services provider. However, one major downside was the length of the film, which was three hours and thirty minutes. “Many viewers simply don’t have time like this or perhaps they would have gotten bored from such a lengthy movie,” said Ariq Habib ’21. This would explain why only 18% of the seventeen million viewers watched the movie to completion, according to figures from an information measurement firm called Nielsen. “The runtime of The Irishman is really only an issue for viewers who are not accustomed to such lengthy films,” said Habib.

When people look back to this film, they remember its message of the destruction of the gangster lifestyle on a person’s personal relationships. “You have to realize that your actions will affect your loved ones and how they view you,” said Asif Anzum ’21 after watching the movie. While Scorsese plans to make more movies in the upcoming years, The Irishman will forever be remembered for its historic cast, controversy, and heartfelt message, which may carry on through the lives of viewers.

To watch The Irishman on Netflix, click HERE.

“You have to realize that your actions will affect your loved ones and how they view you,” said Asif Anzum ’21.

Saad Khandakar
A newspaper box represents the day Jimmy Hoffa disappeared.
















Saad Khandakar
Gimmicked phone booths read Scorsese, Pesci, Pacino, and De Niro.
















Saad Khandakar
A paper distributor gives out newspapers in Little Italy about Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance.
















Saad Khandakar
A 1975 Cadillac is used in the film.