Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: William Monahan
Film was released on October 6th 2006 in the U.K. and U.S.
Review by Matt Holmes
I don’t think any words that I can articulate will do this movie justice. Martin Scorsese has nailed it. The Departed truly has to be up their with any work the legendary director has ever done (no small statement), man you know I hate it that Scorsese’s best work in years is the crime genre because contrary to what most critics say… he is much more than a crime director but fuck it, THIS FILM IS AWESOME.
Worried, anxious, sweating on this remake of the 2002 Hong Kong flick Infernal Affairs was I for many months but I should have known better when it was one of the greatest living directors at the helm. This is not a basic retread. It’s not just a hack remake job for a quick buck which we are too often given with new sheens on old movies these days but is instead an incredibly fast paced, intense and unforgiving crime drama that is deserving to stand on it’s own right which carrys Scorsese’s individual signature and style perfectly.
It carrys the same themes as the original – the blurring or right and wrong – the question of own identity not just in life but in relationship to life and the workplace, it touches on the same fear of masculinity of films like Raging Bull and Taxi Driver but it feels totally fresh too. It ain’t that much different a story than Goodfella’s but it feels like a new chapter for Scorsese whilst watching it.
In what should be a confusing ride, Scorsese manages to shoot a complex story into a simple and compelling work of film which never leaves you wondering what each character’s motivations are. Every scene has it’s purpose, every shot is meticulously used. Nothing is left to waste in a movie nearly two and a half hours in length, which just like his last feature The Aviator…. flies by in no time.
Just like Infernal Affairs, THE DEPARTED is a engrossing thriller about two undercover moles – one of them a cop involved with a underground crime ring and the other a mob player that is infilitrated the police department. In classic 70′s style thriller – neither knows what the other guy looks like and most basically live the life of two guys, not letting the other identity fall into the other.
Scorsese has set the movie in Boston and has managed to get some of the best career work of his amazing A-List cast, many of whom are working for Marty for the first time. Quite simply, there is not one member of the cast that isn’t at the top of their game. Jack Nicholson has been getting all the praise from critics for his performance as the “rock star” mob boss villain Frank Costello and despite it being a typical Jack performance, it’s easily the most comfortable performance he has given in years.
In the kind of role Joe Pesci had in the 90′s, Nicholson is that wild eyed mob boss – the one who has mood swings and is vulnerable to changing his minds and motives as it suits… that often means bad news for those closest to him. He is equal parts charming and sinister, he is psychotic and a dirty unpleasant human being. It’s the kind of over the top performance he has eaten up for years and long may it continue.
Leading the film is Leonardo DiCaprio, with a shue-in Academy Award performance as Bill Costigan in what might be the most difficult role of his career. The WHOLE film relies on getting the audience emotionally involved in his character and if he didn’t deliver, the whole movie wouldn’t work but he nails it. Scorsese keeps giving DiCaprio these on screen challenges but like Robert De Niro in the past, he can stand toe to toe and is not letting the big man down.
Great performance from one of the best actors working today. He is an unconventional hero character but it damn sure works in this film and his emotional scenes with Madolyn (Vera Farmiga) rank as some of the best the film has to offer. Farmiga is an actress I didn’t know much about before this movie but she can damn well act and is a pretty little thing… if I was being picky though I would have asked for more of her character to be developed.
Matt Damon is superb as the smug bastard cop Colin Sullivan, who you hate even more than Nicholson. The wicked smile of the guy who has everything but inside of the exterior facade has nothing inside is a hard role to pull off but Damon manages it. He is an empty shell and you can see it. You want the guy to get what’s coming to him so badly, you almost want to jump onto the screen and beat him to a bloody pulp.
Even Mark Wahlberg, who I’ve never truly been that much of a fan of in this genre gives a superb turn as one of the true honest cops. He starts off as an absolute prick on screen but it’s only later that the genius of his performance pays off. Ray Winstone, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin… Jesus what a cast… and none of them are phoning in their performances here.
The soundtrack should not be forgotten to, as Scorsese blasts out killer tunes such as Comfortably Numb and his favourite band The Rolling Stones and their “Gimmie Shelter” which he blends in with the action and emotional moments so well it adds so much to the film. They are entertaining songs for what is one of the most entertaining mainstream and blockbustery he has ever done. The title credits begin quite a few minutes into it to set the tone for the rest of the flick which is without doubt a highly stylised, fast paced marvel.