Written by William Monahan
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Running Time: 2:31
for strong brutal violence, pervasive language,
some strong sexual content and drug material.
The Departed was a brilliant, edge-of-your-seat thriller that had me enthralled throughout. Definitely the best movie of the year.
Frank Costello is the head of an Irish crime syndicate in Boston. Years ago, he handpicked Colin Sullivan to be a part of his crew, even though Sullivan was just a boy. Fast forward a couple of decades, and Sullivan is now grown up and becoming a cop. He is however, still indebted to Costello and becomes Costello's mole inside the police force. At the same time, Billy Costigan is also joining the force. His superiors don't believe he will ever amount to anything, but offer him a chance to be somebody. Costigan goes deep undercover in Costello's organization to try and bring him down from the inside. Soon both sides know the other side has a rat in their respective groups
and the race is on to see who can sniff out the other one first.
Where to begin? There are so many good things about The Departed I have no idea where to start. Let's go with Jack Nicholson. He narrates the opening of the movie,
and for the first few minutes, you see him on screen in shadow, so you never get the full force of Jack. Then suddenly, he moves into the light and the movie really begins.
Unlike any other actor working today, Nicholson has a presence about him that makes him take over the screen. He doesn't appear in many movies these days, so when
he does, it's a big deal. His take on Frank Costello is part-comedian, part-psycho, but all Nicholson. He's easily in line for another Oscar nod.
Then there's the rest of the cast. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg. There's not a bad performance in the bunch. When the
SAG awards come around for best ensemble cast, this one wins hands down. DiCaprio can no longer be seen as an up and coming actor, one who was coasting off of Titanic. He could have easily gone down the path of making cheap romantic comedies that paid him well but didn't give him a challenge. Instead he took the road less
traveled, and made serious movies that may have underachieved at the box office, but gave him a chance to learn his craft. And after working with Martin Scorsese on three
pictures now, he has definitely learned his craft. His role as the undercover cop was picture perfect. He's got a serious edge to him, yet knows how to be vulnerable. He's
grown up with such maturity you know it's only a matter of time before he starts to win Oscars.
Matt Damon, who knows a thing or two about anchoring a film, is perfect for the role of an Irish cop who is still part of Nicholson's crew. He's still got that schoolboy charm
of his and yet you can see in his eyes, the evil inside. Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin take a back seat to the bigger roles, but each still brings a solid performance to the
table. And lastly, there's Mark Wahlberg. When the commercials for The Departed first started coming out, I couldn't understand how they would mention DiCaprio, Damon
and Nicholson, then show Wahlberg last. How could they not also mention Baldwin and Sheen? Why would Wahlberg get the coveted 'and' title on the commercials? And
then he appeared on screen in what I personally feel is his best role to date. He gets all the best lines and is as intense as an actor can be the entire time he's on screen. I
never was really sure where he was coming from until the very end of the film, and I thought that was amazing. If Wahlberg was ever going to get an award nomination, it
should be as a supporting actor for this film.
The screenplay was top notch. Adapted from the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, William Monahan crafted a dense screenplay that takes so many twists and turns you
think your head will fall off. However, at no point did I ever feel lost or confused. Each story line was clear even though the stories all crossed and double crossed each
other. Every actor had the perfect line for the situation and other than one extremely cheesy line by an extra, ("No, thank you") I don't think there was a piece of dialogue
that didn't work. Yes, it certainly helps when you have a cast as strong as this one, but without the right words to say, it doesn't mean anything. And of course, the entire
movie is held together by the one and only Martin Scorsese.
Arguably the best director working today, this may be his finest piece of work. Yes, there were tremendous films like Casino, Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and my personal favorite before this, Gangs of New York, but this time out it felt different. I find that Scorsese makes films that
either are very dark and disturbing, or ones like The Color of Money where he wants to connect with an audience. Sometimes his films cross over but it's not too surprising
to note that until last year's Oscar nominated The Aviator, none of his films had crossed the $100M mark. Cape Fear and Gangs of New York were his highest grossing
until last year, and those topped out at under $80M. His films are usually loved by critics, but not by mainstream fans. His movies are generally very violent, and The Departed is no exception, except this time it flows with the film and doesn't feel like it's there only for shock value. The movie may be disturbing to some, but I feel like this
is easily one of his most mainstream films to date, and will likely become his highest grossing film. And maybe even lead to that elusive first Oscar.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I loved The Departed. It has tremendous acting, a wonderful script and a great director at the helm. At this point, it is hands down the best film of the year.
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