Much has been said about Martin Scorsese’s ambitious gangster drama The Irishman, set to hit Netflix later this fall. The story follows Frank Sheeran, a real-life mob hitman played by Robert De Niro, reflecting back on his life as an old man from his time in World War II to his career in the criminal underworld. Thanks to the decades-spanning narrative, Scorsese used cutting-edge de-aging technology to make De Niro and fellow co-stars Al Pacino (Jimmy Hoffa) and Joe Pesci (Russell Bufalino) appear younger, swelling the picture’s budget well passed the $150 million mark. There’s a reason Paramount Pictures, the director’s longtime theatrical home, passed on the project.
Now, it’s time to see if all that money was worth it.
The Irishman made its world debut at the New York Film Festival Friday and the first reactions from critics are in. Based on these early responses, it sounds as if Scorsese hasn’t lost the singular touch that made Goodfellas, Casino and The Departed all seminal entries in the gangster genre.
It’s still early, so time will tell if these immediate reactions hold up when full reviews start coming online. Often times, Twitter responses directly after a screening are more positive than the final critical reception. However, Scorsese is a master craftsman and The Irishman is the 1,000-pound gorilla in the Academy Awards race—a heavyweight contender no one has seen until today.
In terms of the film’s Oscars prospects, critics note that it could be a force in a handful of major categories including: Best Picture, Director, Actor, Supporting Actor (Pacino), Adapted Screenplay, Editing Cinematography and Visual Effects. However, despite Netflix’s best efforts, The Irishman will only receive a limited theatrical release ahead of its streaming debut as opposed to the more Oscars-friendly wide releases many awards hopeful pictures receive.