Bobby Ciaro (Danny DeVito) knew what would happen if he gave a lift to a Teamster but when that Teamster is a sharp talking James R. Hoffa (Jack Nicholson) who won't take no for an answer he didn't stand a chance. And whilst Bobby ended up losing his truck driving job Hoffa looked after him as Bobby became his right hand man especially when it came to dealing with the Mafia. Over the years Hoffa with Bobby at his side leads the Teamsters to great power, working for the men they represent even if at times the way he does business breaks the rules. But it is those dubious business practices which leads to trouble for Hoffa.
I like movies which can be split into three things, I find three things is enough to entertain me with out becoming too complicated and "Hoffa" has three things. The first of those three things when it comes to "Hoffa" is its look at it feels to me that Danny DeVito who directed and invested heavily in the movie was trying to match the look and style of "The Untouchables". And DeVito gets very close with one great looking set after another with edits which are reminiscent of Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in America". But it just lacks that extra 10% to make it visually memorable like a Leone or a Scorsese movie.
Then there is the storyline and when you consider that "Hoffa" is technically a biopic it doesn't have the chops and elements you would normally get from a biopic. We see next to nothing when it comes to Hoffa's personal life, we don't see his childhood or the birth of his children and we don't see what drove him to be the fighter for men's rights. So what we get is a plain and simple presentation of Hoffa being a man who believed in the rights of the men and would go to what ever lengths it took to get what he wanted be it the Presidency of the Teamsters or the rights of the men he represented. It makes it straight forwards to follow but probably disappointing for those who come to watch wanting to know who Hoffa was, what caused him to be the way he was, what happened in his formative years to make him such a determined man.
And then there is the acting and no Jack Nicholson doesn't look like Hoffa but Nicholson discards all his traits he has relied on when it comes to acting and immerses himself 100% in playing a character. It is a genuinely fantastic performance which draws you in to every minute of this drama. It is the same with DeVito as Bobby Ciaro a fictionalised character but which is entirely fascinating as Hoffa's loyal right hand man who over the years has become so associated with Hoffa that if he wanted out it could never happen.
What this all boils down to is that "Hoffa" is more of an entertaining movie than an enlightening one which will probably disappoint those wanting to know the man behind the image. But with a good look, nice direction and a great performance from Jack Nicholson "Hoffa" is still very good.