Join Date: May 2004
It finally hit Netflix today. I've been following/waiting for this movie for quite some time. A solid two years, at least.
If you're like me and your favorite movie genre is mafia/crime stuff, especially set a few decades back, you should enjoy it.
It was both quieter, and funnier, than I would've imagined. The trailers kinda make it look like wall-to-wall whacking/violence, but there was less in this than Goodfellas and Casino, I think. Like some recent movies, digital/CGI animation has replaced squibs and practical blood effects for gunshots. Probably easier/cleaner to do, especially headshots. Looked a bit off in the animation/coloring in a few spots (looked "digital" and superimposed), but nothing too bad.
There's been quite a bit of talk about the digital de-aging of the main cast - De Niro, Pesci and Pacino, primarily. It was a bit "soft" or obvious in places, but it never takes you out of the movie or is a true negative. You're paying more attention to things being said, in theory. Or you should be. Since we're so familiar with these actors, having seen them for four decades or more, it probably made more sense to de-age them and still have those full-on De Niro, Pesci and Pacino performances than to hire different actors to play the younger versions of the characters? You could've done that had this movie gone a different way with the casting, going with relative unknowns vs. such familiar faces and mainstays of the genre. The one thing I did notice was some obvious hairpieces/wig-work throughout, particularly Pacino and Pesci. A bit too full, crisp lines, etc.
The music/soundtrack was nice in some places, although, for a Scorsese movie set primarily in the 50's, 60's and 70's, I would've expected much more, and put to memorable use. It's almost as though the music licensing budget on this movie was shortchanged and nowhere near that of Goodfellas and some others. There's no memorable "Mr. Speedo", "Pretend You Don't See Her" or "Layla" type of sequence where a song ties strongly to a particular scene.
Lots of familiar faces if you're a fan of these types of movies, especially the Scorsese-directed ones. And there were 3-4 scenes that actually played like direct lifts from/homages to Goodfellas, just the way the camera moved or the way a shot was framed, etc.
It is long, at three-and-a-half hours. So carve out a chunk of time and find somewhere comfortable to sit. I alternated between my couch and lying in the floor and I'm a bit sore in the butt/back areas.
While enjoyable overall, its length and relative quietness and slow-pacing means it doesn't have the re-watchability factor of Goodfellas, Casino and others. It does meander a bit and some scenes seem set up to just "deliver the goods" in terms of people acting/talking the way you'd expect in a Scorsese mob/crime movie with all these actors. A couple of times I found myself thinking "okay, this is almost veering into parody".
So just little things like that keep me from being completely ga-ga over it. But it's definitely a well-made movie and probably De Niro's best work in quite some time (he's veered into some lame comedies in recent years, but this is more the way I like to see him). His character is more sympathetic and likable than I expected, considering his occupation/actions. And he had blue eyes (contacts? CGI?), which, in a few scenes, really made him look like a different person. That surprised me.
I didn't like Pacino's portrayal of Jimmy Hoffa anywhere near as much as that of Jack Nicholson's in the 1992 Danny DeVito-directed Hoffa. I've seen footage of Hoffa, and Nicholson captured the persona/voice much better. In fact, Pacino sounded like New York/Donnie Brasco Al Pacino, vs. the Midwest accent/voice of Hoffa's. He didn't really even attempt it. It was just gravelly old Al, even doing the loud bursts at times. As far as the main cast, he was actually my least favorite.
I think I liked Joe Pesci's performance more than anyone's. Some of that was just because it was different than the type of role he played in Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino. He wasn't a violent hot-head at all, but he was still scary/threatening at times, just his calm, serious demeanor and that you knew he wielded quite a bit of power/control.
My favorite parts of movies like this are the sets, props, wardrobe, vehicles tied to the period being portrayed. I always enjoy the cool cars, suits, etc. Much of the movie was set in the 70's, so you had some great outfits, especially by the women. It's hard to believe people dressed that way on purpose.
But overall, I'd give it a solid 6.5-7 out of 10.
You kinda have to be into this genre to like it. I think if your thing is romantic comedies or popcorn action fare, you'll likely be bored. But it's a safe bet if you're into Scorsese, his crime/mafia movies and the actors involved. Pretty much a Scorsese All-Star Revue at times, with De Niro, Pesci and even Harvey Keitel. Anna Paquin did a really nice job as De Niro's daughter, as did Ray Romano and several others. I recognized Bobby Canavale from Boardwalk Empire, Kathrine Narducci from A Bronx Tale, Jesson Plemons, Paul Ben Victor and many others throughout.
I may watch it one more time, in a month or so, just to see if it hits me differently, or if I notice anything new/different. It kinda just laid there more than I would've predicted, but that might've been the point, and how it was planned? There is a lot of talking at times. Oh, and like, Goodfellas and Casino there is voiceover narration, shifting amongst the three main cast members, De Niro, Pacino and Pesci. And even several instance, as in Goodfellas of a character breaking the fourth wall and speaking directly into the camera, to the viewer. I don't recall any freeze-frame usage, but there were 2-3 sequences of ultra slow-motion used.
Oh, and there was a funny little gimmick used of onscreen titling throughout, upon being introduced to the various characters...text would appear on the screen of many of the minor/supporting characters, telling you their name, how they died (usually violently, with a bullet count included) and the date. Made me chuckle a few times "so-and-so, shot in the face six times. July 3, 1974" or whatever.
Anyway, give it a look if this is your kinda thing.