The Departed
Director: Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, The Aviator)
Screenplay: William Monahan, Siu Fai Mak, Felix Chong
Producers: Jennifer Aniston, Brad Grey, Graham King, Brad Pitt, Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 149 min
read my spoiler disclaimer

by Andrew James
     Scorsese returns his efforts to the big screen after building a master documentary on Bob Dylan, with a remake of the immensely popular Japanese film, Infernal Affairs. Though I've always liked Scorsese's films (Goodfellas, Raging Bull, The Aviator) I've always been in the minority and thought they were all a bit over-rated. I refuse to jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else does. Or maybe I'm just stupid.

      Having said that, The Departed is, although not brilliant, a damn fine intriguer of a film that had me on the edge of my seat, simply dying to find out what would happen next and to see how everything would pan out. This is a true suspense film that will leave you gasping for air through most of the full two and a half hours.

      DiCaprio plays Costigan, an undercover cop who has infiltrated an Irish crime syndicate headed by one Frank Costello (Nicholson). While the cops think they're finally getting a hold of Costello and building a case, little do they know that Costello has his own mole within the police force: a higher-up new recruit, Colin Sullivan (Damon). It becomes a battle of wits between these two; one cop pretending to be a mobster and one mobster pretending to be a cop. Neither knows the other's identity and each is always one step ahead of the other. It's cinematic suspense at its finest.

      The performances all around are terrific. Nicholson steals every scene he's in and is totally enjoyable to watch; even when he's torturing someone to death. DiCaprio's heartfelt passion for his role is very evident as he brings super amounts of emotion and depth to every scene (as he always does). Damon's character is a stiff, pompous son of a bitch that you just know you can't trust. He's brilliant and devious and it will get you frustrated every time you see him get the upper hand over somebody.

      The side characters all work well too: Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg and most notably of the supporting cast, Alec Baldwin. He plays the asshole captain that although he's a good guy, you just love to hate him. Relative new comer Vera Farmiga (Running Scared) plays the love interest in the movie. Nothing special here, but she works and will probably have a decent carreer. Some of the actors do have a bit of a tough time convincing me of their Irish and/or Boston accents, but their characters are so enjoyable on all other fronts, that it's hardly noticeable or even important.

      One thing I love about Marty's movies is his lack of fear of anything. He's not afraid to use language that real people use. These Irish mobsters occasionally call people faggots and niggers. That's the way they talk and Scorsese isn't afraid to let that fly right into his lens and onto the screen. The aforementioned Baldwin is one of these characters that just let's it all hang out.

      Besides the language is Scorsese's obvious use of blood and killing in his films. The Departed is no different. The brutality in this film is nothing to scoff at and may make you jump in your seat on more than one occasion. It's part of what makes the film so gripping. Some of it is also, as I realize I'm becoming my father, unnecessary.

      On a personal note, the extremely lame version of Pink Floyd's masterpiece, "Comfortably Numb," was used during an extensive sequence about halfway through the movie. This really pissed me off. What is this garbage? It's a great song and the real thing should've been used. Not this.... whatever it is crap you can hear in the trailer (below).

      A nitpicking criticism that most people might not notice is the atrocious editing in this movie. It's so bad that I can't help but think it's intentional. The camera will switch shots from one character to another while they're having a conversation. The character that was previously on screen can now be seen in a completely different position and/or holding something they weren't holding an instant ago. This is a small but noticeable problem that just drove me nuts. Espescially in the first 45 minutes or so of the movie (update: The Departed wins best editing at the Oscars).

      My only other problem with the movie was the cop out (no pun intended) ending. I hated it. I'm not going to give it away, but the last 30 seconds of the movie ruined the greatness that was the previous 2 1/2 hours. It's the only thing keeping me from giving this movie 5 stars. I wish there had been something far more creative and alas, there was not.

      Scorsese fans will be happy with the finished product; though I think Marty will lose out on an Oscar once again this year (update: The Departed wins best director and picture at the Oscars = ridiculous). Great performances and an amazingly simple yet entertaining and suspenseful story will keep you entertained and it is most definitely worth the ten bucks. I just wish that the ending could've held something a bit more clever. I would've expected more from someone as talented as Martin Scorsese.

Press "PLAY" to watch the trailer

Links: - full cast and crew
Official Site