Caleb’s review published on Letterboxd:
"It is what it is."
Scorsese's latest epic crime drama proves not only did he miss a single beat in his long career, but he also proves to be better than he has ever been. As he gets older, he's always found a way to revitalize himself in different ways. The Wolf of Wall Street proved that he could exude the energy of a 30-year-old filmmaker despite the fact he's in his 70s. Shutter Island proved that he could be a master of whatever genre he wishes to take a dive in, the same for Hugo. The point is, he hasn't lost a single step. Perhaps he isn't experimental as he once was in the seventies or eighties, but it only proves he's refined himself for each and every project he's undertaken (even if I haven't seen all of his, there's no reason to believe otherwise). As we've finally arrived at this point of time, with The Irishman's release on Netflix for all to see, we see Scorsese put together an awesome assembly of talent, composed of Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, and more. It'll likely be the last time that we see all of these people together in a single film, much less a Scorsese-directed one and a crime film on top of that. We all should be thankful to Netflix and Scorsese for making what happens to be one of the best films this year, and possibly one of the best films of the last 20 years.
Opening with a tracking shot through a nursing home in which Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) sits in his wheelchair and begins to recall his time as a hitman. It's told in a very matter of fact manner, in which it's almost a self-aware effort by Scorsese to counteract his previous films in the mob genre, taking out all the glamour of the lifestyle. Instead, Scorsese keeps the eye on the inevitability of death throughout even if we jump through the timeline from the 50s to the 90s. Though, it should be important to note that even though this opens on a rather somber note, this film is indeed very funny that it should be no problem for most to enjoy this. Still, the inevitability of death certainly permeates throughout, to the final frame. In addition to the inevitability, Scorsese does great genre work here, and as I've already said, he hasn't lost a single step. Robert De Niro is phenomenal here. Joe Pesci deserves the Oscar this year. He came out of retirement to do this, and we all should be blessed by his presence. Al Pacino delivers his best performance in a while, providing much of the humor here while contributing to this film in a big way. This assembly of talent is not one to be missed.
Martin Scorsese makes the best use of the talent provided, and delivers one of his very best films in his long career. The added historical context throughout the film only adds to the fact that Scorsese wanted this to be his most self-aware film yet, and if the final hour doesn't do you in, nothing will. Thank you, Martin Scorsese. You've topped yourself yet again, as expected. Houses have been painted, and it is what it is.