A movie poster headlining Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino, and Pesci means you instantly know you are in for a mobster movie. How different from other mafia movies it is though. Instead of a thrill ride or glorification, we experience the mundanity, if you will, of everyday violence, murder, extortion, bribery, fraud and a variety of other felonies through the eyes and memories of the Irishman. A character study reflecting on life and loyalties, loss and loneliness, and pain and penance.
Neeson plays Nels Coxman, a snowplough driver who loses his son to a drug overdose. Convinced his son wasn’t a druggie, Coxman sets out to find out what happened and soon finds himself in a world of drugs, turf wars, and revenge. He takes no prisoners and the body count steadily increases as the plot thickens and bad guy The Viking (Tom Bateman) turns up the heat to find him.
In the depths of the cold war a Russian agent Rudolf Abel (actually a KGB colonel called Vilyam Fisher, though the movie does not reveal this), played by Mark Rylance, is arrested. The US bar council asks a prominent attorney called James Donovan (played by Tom Hanks), who made his name at the Nuremberg Trials but now works in Insurance, to take on the role of defending Abel – they want American justice to be seen to be done before Abel is inevitably convicted and possibly executed.