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The Irishman: The De-Aging Doesn’t Really Work When You’re OLD AF

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I want to be perfectly clear. This isn’t a diss aimed at the actors occupying The Irishman. Far from it. I have the highest of respect for those actors. No. This is a post about something else. But let’s start from the beginning. Martin Scorsese’s latest mob drama is rather boring albeit fascinating tale, about some of the most notorious men in history. You have mobsters and trade union leaders in The Irishman. Hit-men and politicians. Just another crime drama by the hands of the man who perfected them? You can bet your ass off.

But the one thing that really diverts your attention in this 3 and a half hour mammoth of a movie is the CGI used in the de-aging of the main actors. Joe Pesci, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and yes even Harvey Keitel look decades younger in the Irishman thanks to the very talented VFX team in Industrial Light & Magic. It’s expensive and time-consuming work for sure, but was the de-aging really worth it? No not really. Let me explain.

It would have been much easier (not to mention a lot cheaper) just to find younger actors to play these exact roles in the flashback scenes. Not to mention that it would have been wiser just to shoot this movie some 20 years earlier when all of them were still in their best form. I’m not just talking about their acting form, but about their physical stamina too. They all look like dirty grandpas even in the de-aged scenes, and that’s not the movie’s intention.

How can you tell? Well, it’s easy actually. Yes, the VFX team managed to iron the faces of the screen legends, but there was nothing to be done about the voice, hunched back posture and even the look of the drooping jawline on the actor’s faces. You can just see senior citizens in them, and they’re in the majority of the movie. You’re bound to see senior citizens. Every scene that required physical activity like fighting, changing tires on a car or even basic walking (and that was captured with a wide shot) was a sad reminder that these are old (and I do mean old) men even when they’re artificially de-aged. Yes, it’s that noticeable.

Al Pacino is pushing 80 and he’s playing Jimmy Hoffa in his late 30’s. Don’t get me wrong. While it does work for some actors (let’s say Robert Downey JR, Patrick Swayze, Jeff Bridges. Samuel L. Jackson, Will Smith, Michael Douglas) it didn’t work here. It was a good thought on paper, but in reality it didn’t work. But hey. At least Marty tried.

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1 comment

  1. Grx 10 December, 2019 at 04:56 Reply

    For the most part I was ok with the effects, I especially thought Pacino was good. I never really got the vibe that Pacino was 35 or anything but it worked. Sort of like an older acting selling it ok. Where I had a big issue that took me out of the film, was the beginning between DeNiro and joe pesci. Pesci called him “kid” but he didn’t look like a kid. He looked far older, like 35+. Like they were about the same age. The whole driver part of it, DeNiro looked too old. They should have used some younger actors to play the earliest scenes and then brought them in around age 40. But I liked the movie, it was good.

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