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.
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.