The Departed

"Excellent"

The Departed Review


Just as Spike Lee took a basic caper and added his own pet issues to elevate Inside Man to the upper echelons of its genre, Martin Scorsese has taken The Departed, based on an intriguingly simple premise, to its own heights by infusing issues that have concerned him ever since Mean Streets. Along the way, he makes room for some memorable performances, not the least of which comes from the most likely of sources.

The Departed is based on the Hong Kong blockbuster Infernal Affairs, in which a cop goes undercover in the mob while the mob places one of their own as a mole in the police force. In Scorsese's version, the scene shifts to Boston, where mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) puts loyal-from-boyhood employee Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) through police training. As Sullivan rises through the ranks, Special Investigations Unit chiefs Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) recruit rookie Billy Costigan (Leonardo Dicaprio) to get "kicked off" the force and do time to gain Costello's confidence.

All of this happens before the opening titles.

Which is not to say that the pace of the film is all that brisk. Part of the price Scorsese pays for taking the basic premise of Infernal Affairs and then digging for themes is a beefy running time -- a solid 149 minutes to Affairs' 97. That said, Scorsese hasn't exactly packed the rest with fluff. He keeps the basic plot of the original and revisits some of its best scenes, but takes his time with the spaces in between.

Issues of masculinity, race, class, masculinity, Catholic guilt, and masculinity tend to come up a bit in Scorsese's oeuvre, and this film is no exception. While Sullivan and Costigan circle each other, their own roles as not just criminal and cop, but as affluent white male and poor Irish thug come to the fore. Given Sullivan's gradual transformation from Southie to Yuppie, another title might have been The Assimilated.

Costello's casual racism (it takes less than five minutes for him to tell us what he has against black people) underscores the mistrust that permeates not just his world, but the cops' as well. An encounter with a bunch of Chinese gangsters takes this to nationalistic levels, with Costello raging on about how we do business "in this country." Like Daniel Day-Lewis in Gangs of New York, he's not just a sociopath, he's a patriotic sociopath.

Scorsese also lets loose with a torrent of phallic symbols (well, one isn't actually a symbol, it's more of an actual phallus), Freudian references, and good, old-fashioned repressed sexuality. When Costello's moll (Kristen Dalton) purrs that she'll "straighten him out" after hearing him get all hot and bothered while threatening one of his men, it's one of many cues that maybe all this killing would stop if the boys could just be more secure in their manhood.

The performances rise to meet the emotional complexity of William Monahan's adaptation. DiCaprio and Damon are as solid as ever, but it's Wahlberg who ends up being the scene stealer, with dialogue that sets a new benchmark for the title of Abrasive Police Chief. Alec Baldwin, as the head of Sullivan's unit, chews whatever scenery Wahlberg misses.

In the end, though, this is Jack's world and everybody else is just acting in it. Nicholson infuses Costello with the effortless charm and maniacal glee we've come to expect from our mob bosses, but makes room for some petty desperation as well.

The Departed is not without its flaws. It gets a bit repetitive, Vera Farmiga's role as a psychiatrist torn between the leads is underwritten, and the coda feels like it was tacked on by a grumpy test audience. Regardless, it's proof positive that neither Scorsese nor Nicholson has lost his touch.

Clean up your desks, coppers.



The Departed

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

In Theaters: Friday 6th October 2006

Box Office USA: $132.3M

Box Office Worldwide: $289.8M

Budget: $90M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Warner Bros., Initial Entertainment Group (IEG), Vertigo Entertainment, Media Asia Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 218 Rotten: 19

IMDB: 8.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Billy, as Colin, as Costello, as Dignam, as Cpt. Queenan, as Mr. French, as Madolyn, as Brown, as Ellerby, as Cousin Sean, as Barrigan, as Fitzy, as Lazio, as Gwen, Thomas B. Duffy as Govenor, Dick Hughes as Uncle Edward, Chance Kelly as Exam Instructor

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.