Crime, Gangster Film, Police Drama
To take down South Boston's Irish Mafia, the police send in one of their own to infiltrate the underworld, not realizing the syndicate has done likewise. While an undercover cop curries favor with the mob kingpin, a career criminal rises through the police ranks. But both sides soon discover there's a mole among them.
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The king is back - long live the king! When Martin Scorsese lost the Best Director Academy Award most recently for both "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator", most people just assumed he was cursed to never win the award. He had already lost for such classics as "Raging Bull" and "Goodfellas". What people don't seem to realize is that neither "Gangs of New York" or "The Aviator", as good as they might have been, are true Martin Scorsese classics. When you look back on his long and amazing career, those are not the films most will remember. Personally, I think they were just his way of killing time before "The Departed". I think those two films were Martin Scorsese's way of polishing his skills before he made a true return to form. "The Departed" is his best film in a very long time, likely since "Goodfellas". Sure, we all loved "Casino" and "Bringing Out the Dead" was manic and fun also, but "The Departed" is dripping with precision and skill and talent, and everything that Scorsese brings to the plate. It is a true Scorsese film, just like "Taxi Driver" and just like "The Last Temptation of Christ". It feels like a Scorsese film, something that his previous two films have lacked. The king is back, and better than ever!
Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Billy Costigan, a Boston police trooper who is recruited by Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) to become an undercover informant on Boston crime lord Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Elsewhere, police trooper Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is being promoted and advanced at an incredible pace, and eventually heads up a unit designed to bring down Costello as well. One problem - Sullivan is a close friend of Costello and is ratting all the information to him, assuring that he is never caught. Eventually, a war develops, as DiCaprio tries to sniff out the rat in the department, and as Damon tries to discover whom the undercover cop is in Costello's unit. The film chronicles this journey. Ray Winstone co-stars as Mr. French, Costello's right hand man and a very imposing figure. Vera Farmiga co-stars as a psychiatrist who falls for both DiCaprio and Damon, without ever putting two and two together. This all-star cast is only aided by Alec Baldwin in a small supporting role, and the surprising Anthony Anderson. Scorsese is known for bringing out the best in A-listers, and he certainly does so here again.
This film is just classic Scorsese. He does everything right, from the camera angles to the pacing to the violence level, which amps it up more than his previous two efforts. Maybe Scorsese has just figured out what he does best and is deciding to stick with it. What makes "The Departed" so similar to other films like "Goodfellas" and "Casino" is the grittiness and the violence and the level of constant worry that someone is going to take a bullet to the back of the head. That happens all the time in Scorsese films, and they usually take you off guard. What makes "The Departed" so different from films like "Casino" and "Goodfellas" is that is focuses more on the police side of the matter, and less on the criminal element. Sure, Nicholson's character is the basis for the film and a huge character, but we see most of everything through the police officers, whether they be undercover informants or rats on the inside. So, Scorsese takes a sneak peak into areas that law enforcement officials might not want him to go. Everyone is well aware of Boston's mob history and their current mob status, and this film certainly brings more attention to all of that. And, from a technical standpoint, this film is the directorial achievement of the year.
But, what would the film be without this cast? It would still be amazing, but not as. Leading the pack and stealing every scene he is in, Jack Nicholson is in Oscar-winning glory as Frank Costello. He has so much fun with this character and just sizzles with each and every actor he takes on from scene to scene. It's like watching a master have all the fun in the world. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon are both strong and admirable in their leading roles as the two troopers, and they have an every that I have seen in neither of them in a long time. I especially like how Damon is taking on these kinds of roles now and really separating himself as a true A-list actor. Martin Sheen is wonderful as Queenan, an always underrated veteran actor, and Mark Wahlberg really delivers one of the more entertaining performances in the film as Dignam. However, the real treasure from the supporting performances comes from the great character actor Ray Winstone as Mr. French. He deserves some recognition for this role, and I hope he gets it. The only central female character is played by Vera Farmiga, and I think she handles herself amazingly well with all of this incredible talent - her star is definitely on the rise. And, Anthony Anderson surprised the hell out of me.
So, once again, I have another 'best film of 2006', and this one is likely to stick. When Martin Scorsese releases a film, it's an event on many different levels. When he releases a film this amazing, it is a masterpiece. And, "The Departed" most certainly is. I expected big things from this film come awards season and I fully expect Scorsese to finally win a much deserved Best Director Academy Award. If not, he really will have been robbed. Here are my suggestions for nominations this year: Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Wahlberg), Best Supporting Actor (Ray Winstone), Best Adapted Screenplay (William Monahan) and a host of other technical awards. I don't know if DiCaprio or Damon will get a nominations, but they would also be deserved. "The Departed" is just a bad ass, entertaining, engrossing, and spectacular cinematic achievement from one of the masters. It's watching a really great director make a really great film, and appreciating every second of it. You won't find a better film in theatres. You might not find out anywhere else, for that matters.
- added 10/17/2006, 05:07 PM
Excellent film! Perfectly casted, too.
DAFsjdflksjdfsdjfjh -- hurray for using a Dropkick
- added 02/04/2007, 04:05 PM
Maybe the best movie I saw last year.
- added 12/15/2007, 02:22 PM
I finally got to see this the other day. WOW.
This movie was just perfect. I'm gonna put it in
with my group of "It's too good that it should be
banned" movies, and soon to be added to that list
is Dark Knight, the trailer already belongs to the
- added 01/18/2008, 07:28 PM
I didn't like a single minute of this movie.
- added 09/20/2008, 03:13 PM
It has perhaps the most cliche' ending image I've
ever seen in modern cinema.... absolute amateur
The movie proper is fairly
decent... but the movie he remade is far better.
This (Infernal Affairs) is a Hong Kong classic
that, while less slick, has a punchier, less
settling finale. Scorsese basically recreates the
earlier film in almost every detail and tacks on a
more "American friendly" ending to
satisfy viewers that long for the bad guy to get
It's sad to
think that this movie made such noise when it
debuted a few years back... I think that most
folks were just thrliled to have Scorsese at the
helm of a decent flick for once... like the old
See the original... skip this
rehash. Just say "No" to the rat...
- added 09/22/2008, 11:13 AM
I don't see how the last two comments on this
film came to fruition. Wow. "The
Departed" is a phenomenal film. I have seen
both the Hong Kong version and the American
version. They're both great for different
reasons, but I'll take Scorsese any day of the
week. The performances are rock solid, the
direction is masterful and there's never a dull
As for the ending, just
because the ending is obvious doesn't mean it's
bad. Of course the rat is one of those 'of
course' moments. I kind of have to think that's
what Scorsese is going for? Of course -- what
does he know? He's only one of the greatest
directors in the history of cinema and one of the
foremost experts on all things cinema? Cliche?
- added 09/22/2008, 12:56 PM
Ahhh... the cult of personality presses ever
A cliche' is a cliche',
Meanie... regardless of how enamored you are of
the Director that uses it.
That final shot
is weak and forced... as ham-fisted a metaphor as
I've ever seen in a major Hollywood production...
and even with the tacked-on Hollywood ending, it
screams of self indulgence.
said, the film is a solid one and it certainly has
it's merits... but it really doesn't bring much to
the table that the prior film hasn't already done
in an edgier, less spoon-fed way. I just found
the original film to be more unsettling... in a
good way... and much prefer that ending.
As usual, it comes down to preference...
you like Scorsese, I prefer originality. (Just
If anything, we can both
agree that this was certainly a welcome return to
stronger material for Scorsese.
It's just no
10/10 in my book...
- added 09/22/2008, 02:08 PM
And before you come roaring back and misquote me
as saying that this film is crap...
it a solid 8/10... (and that's only if I simply
block out that agonizing cheese shot at the
It just could have been
better... and was... in 2002, when Andrew Lau and
Alan Mak directed it.
- added 09/22/2008, 04:46 PM
8/10? Next time be clearer. Why? Because you
used the phrases...
It has perhaps
the most cliche' ending image I've ever seen in
modern cinema.... absolute amateur hour.
It's sad to think that this
movie made such noise when it debuted a few years
back... I think that most folks were just thrliled
to have Scorsese at the helm of a decent flick for
once... like the old days.
original... skip this rehash. Just say
"No" to the rat...
next time you want to give a movie an 8/10...how
about you don't belittle it like a 4/10? That was
where the confusion lay. If this is how you
describe a film you give 8/10...I'd hate to know
how you describe a film you give 7/10.
- added 09/22/2008, 04:47 PM
Is it too much to ask that a criticism match its
- added 09/22/2008, 11:47 PM
Jeez... talk about getting technical about such
an subjective topic...
i'd have given
the film a 7 if I couldn't look past the horrible
ending image ( I just hit "eject" before
that last shot flashes onscreen)... but I was
trying to be fair in regards to the acting and
technical merits of the film.
harsh criticism of the film is based on the fact
that it is a remake... and in THAT aspect, the
film is a 6, at best.
It adds nothing to the
original version... and actually sucks a great
deal of the drama out of the original's ending
with that weak add-on ending. I just judge remakes
of excellent films on a harsher curve than the
original material... if you're going to remake a
good film, you'd better have something new and
really worthwhile to contribute to it.
I wasn't belittling the film at all... just
suggesting that you spend your time watching a
superior version of the source material instead of
this remake. I stand by my earlier comments.
The Red Clover
- added 09/23/2008, 09:13 AM
I was thrilled to see a movie concerning the
Irish mob because in the world of cinema you are
rarely afforded an opportunity to see into the
possible mechanics of a force of crime that was
around in America almost two centuries before the
Italian's brought their Mafia to our shores. I
felt the same way with "Gangs of New
York." The stories that came out of the Five
Points are sadly buried by movies like "The
Godfather" (which is the only movie of the
trilogy I'll acknowledge.) Not mention the superb
work of Scorsese and the above stellar acting of
just about everyone involved. I mean, really, who
saw Anthony Anderson's performance coming? Even if
he was involved briefly compared to a few others
he some how helped the film along just as much as
anyone else had in their supporting roles.
I won't begin to compare it with it's
Hong Kong mother. I feel that'd be unfair to
either film because of vast differences in
culture. I feel both films can (and should) stand
on their own. You don't sit there and compare
"Batman Begins" and "The Dark
Knight" to "Batman" and
"Batman Returns" because all four movies
are great in their own right so you view them
individually. I feel this movie deserves a 10/10
as a movie that stands alone and I wholeheartedly
agree with this interview. Although from reading
as many Irish mob books as I have (Brutal, Paddy
Whacked, I Heard You Paint Houses) I kind of saw
the ending coming sans the rat which I thought was
great despite how cliche it was.
- added 09/23/2008, 12:48 PM
An interesting counter-point, Clover...
But I still didn't feel that the whole
Irish angle was explored enough to actually make
it relevant to the film proper. It just seemed
like a thin sheen of extra flavoring Scorsese
sprinkled over the story in an attempt to
distinguish it from it's earlier incarnation.
And for the record, I DO compare
"Batman Begins" and "The Dark
Knight" to the earlier Batman films (as I
think most people would)... They all deal with the
same titular character and squarely rest within
the same genre! I can't follow your logic on that
In a vacuum, this film is
great... but given the fact that it replicates an
earlier film almost scene for scene in some
places, comparisons are inevitable. I'm not
saying that I think that it is a crappy film
(although that rat scene is horrible and the
tacked on ending is quite disappointing)... I just
can't get that excited about a remake that, in my
opinion, doesn't quite touch the greatness of the
I just hope that we
can agree to disagree ;)
The Red Clover
- added 09/26/2008, 07:56 PM
I can agree and disagree, I just like having
To begin I am a vivid
reader of comic books. The reason I don't compare
"Batman Begins" and "The Dark
Knight" to say "Batman" and
"Batman Returns" is because it's a comic
book movie first and foremost. Yes it's
entertainment, yes they are movies based on the
same titular character but one has to understand
that even if all four movies are based around the
same titular character that titular character
changes often in the source material. Given that
the titular character changes often in the source
material you're given a rare opportunity to
examine each movie as if they were stand alone
tales. Just as if it were a comic book. I don't
compare because I feel that they can all be
interpreted to be good in just about anyone's
For example, some people prefer
the writing of Frank Miller to that of Alan Moore.
Both are fantastic but both present a different
take on the same character so it's unfair to
compare them. Some people prefer the taste of
margarine to butter or vice versa. I personally
believe Burton is a cunt and his creations in the
Batman franchise are blemishes at best whereas Mr.
Meanie there will avidly and rightfully so, come
to Burton's defense -- because he prefers Burton
whereas I prefer Nolan/Goyer but we both prefer
different styles so comparisons is just a reason
to start a debate. Also, even while based on the
same titular character all four movies only share
the fact that they can all definitively fall in
the comic book-movie genre. "Batman
Begins" and "The Dark Knight" were
darker, they had a body count, the over-all theme
was realistic where as "Batman" and
"Batman Returns" were more of a fantasy
take, a return to the whimsical.
my logic is they're all fine wines, I can compare
the taste but just to find the flavor I prefer. To
compare them to find which is "better"
would be a waste of time because the taste I
prefer will always be better than yours (to me.)
- added 09/26/2008, 10:32 PM
An interesting perspective, Clover... and perhaps
the most times I've ever seen the word
"titular" used concurrently in just a
few sentences. Remarkable really...
While I do share your perspective when it comes
to the differing takes on the Batman
(and I must correct you in the
matter of Burton's version... there was quite a
body count in those films as well... we just
didn't have our faces rubbed into each violent act
as with the Nolan take)
... when you utilize
the same main characters and environments of a
franchise, you inevitably invite comparison!
They are quite different animals as far as mood
and content... but at the heart of both film
franchises, beats the same soul.
question is... which treatment better serves the
I share your love of
the original comics... I'm actually part of the
industry... I write and draw a strip myself as a
side job for a major publication. This may
influence my particular take on this topic... but
there it is.
Because of this, while I
prefer the more realistic approach of Nolan's
vision... his mutation of the main character from
anguished detective to malicious thug is very
distasteful for me. Neither director has properly
portrayed the character in regards to its comic
book roots... so both franchises are similarly
disappointing to me. Not BAD, mind you... but
disappointing in regards to what COULD have
Now... I'm trying to start any
arguments here... I just feel that when you use
the same character, same set-up story, and almost
the same rubbery-looking Bat-suit... your going to
have to deal with comparison. As for comparing
them, well... that's how good new ideas come into
being, IMHO. Sure... you like your opinion... and
I'll stick with mine... but you must admit, both
Nolan's and Burton's Batman treatments are
inexorably bound together through their source
As for Moore and Miler...
both are indeed great comic book writers... and
both are also fairly overrated;
- added 09/26/2008, 10:36 PM
I'd also just like to add that I've really
enjoyed your civility regarding this discussion,
I only wish that more people would
approach such an exchange with such an even handed
I salute you, sir.
It's been fun!
- added 09/27/2008, 12:37 AM
FOCUS BITCHES! Don't be talking Batman on the
Departed page. It's like crack with you two. :P
- added 09/27/2008, 12:51 AM
Settle down, little lady...
more than made my point regarding the Departed and
how I see it as compared with it's progenitor.
This was a bit of playful banter between two
guys who dig on film, extending a side
conversation (admittedly, to a bit of excess).
Get over it... or join in!
The Red Clover
- added 09/27/2008, 08:39 PM
I love bantering and I do agree that both
directors have missed the mark concerning the
portrayal of the source material but I've come to
accept that unfortunately comic-book movies can't
be made for JUST comic-book fans. We can't be
catered to because the franchise has to be made
for a broader audience so when they take the
liberties they do it's going to produce a product
that differs from the source. Just the Hollywood
machine we've come to hate (and love.)
As we wind this discussion down, I would like to
point out that Burton and Nolan focus on a
different roster of main characters while I
concede that Burton did have an impressive body
count. It's been fun, I merely wanted to suggest
that I try to avoid comparisons as often as
possible and grade movies individually based on
the merits of that movie alone.
used the Batman franchise because it was the first
thing I came up with. I could have used a
"Fantastic Four" example; movie barely
anyone knows exists is horrible, the one made by
Fox, while cheesy and could be considered
"bad" isn't nearly as much of a train
wreck as it's predecessor. I judged them
individually, not by comparison although the first
one was made in '94.
- added 09/28/2008, 03:14 AM
I hear you... but both Burtons and Nolan's roster
of main characters are basically identical... just
a few random variants separate them. Go ahead...
just list them off in your head and you'll see
that the differences are quite minor.
Incidentally, i thought that BOTH the earlier
'94 incarnation and big Hollywood version of the
FF stunk up the place... neither gets any props
from me. It's not always about the special
effects... it's when a Director simply choses to
rewrite a set of characters out of ego because he
thinks he knows better than over 50 years of
successful history. Changes and updates are alway
welcome... Iron Man proves this nicely. It's
about really keeping the pulpy heart of the
characters or mythos that matters... at least to
Sorry that this has gotten
a bit off track now... but i just like the new
topic more than the conversation that spawned
Let's just discuss this in another more
appropriate strand, shall we?