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The Departed

2006 crime thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese

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"You Dirty Rats!"

  • Jan 21, 2007
  • by
In the mold of other gangster films, like 'Scarface' and 'Goodfellas,' Scorsese delivers more than a feather in his ample directing cap with his brilliant new movie, 'The Departed'. Featuring an all-star cast, 'The Departed' hits the ground and never stops running. Jack Nicholson is at his ruthless best as the Irish mafia figurehead, Costello. Menacingly funny, he delivers one of his most unforgettable performances with the steely subtlety that has made him a legend. Everyone else puts in their brawling best, especially Di Caprio as the tough, but nervous Billy Costigan, an undercover cop pretending to be Costello's prodigy hitman, and Mark Wahlberg as the tough as nails police administrator, Dignam. And they deliver this masterpiece without needing any help from Joe Pesci or Robert DiNero. Amazing!

The movie starts us off with the ruthless Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), the Italian head of Boston's Irish mafia. Extorting money anywhere from local greasy spoons to government operations with sensitive weapons' information, Costello makes Don Carleone seem like Mr. Rogers. We first witness a harrowing extortion scene at a neighborhood Boston restaurant during the sixties. By sharing the extorted loot with a destitute young neighbor boy, Collin Sullivan, he takes upon him a future prodigy (Matt Damon). In his pocket at the time of Sullivan's police academy graduation, Costello finds the perfect rat to work undercover in the Boston Police Department. Sullivan proves to be a savvy informant, brilliantly juggling his responsibilities as a quick, ascending officer, while bailing out the Irish mafia via cell phone. In the meantime, the police have their own well-disguised rat in Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) who convincingly wins Costello over as another promising hitman. Costigan finds it hard to stomach all the carnage this organized crime unit masters, and it is to everyone's credit that edgy seems to be a trite description for what Costigan witnesses. (One particularly unnerving scene is when Costello shows Costigan a severed hand from a victim's body bag.) How both rats tip-toe through their harrowing treason is one of the masterstrokes of playful suspense throughout this clever flick! Ironically, police chief Oliver Queenan (Martin Mall) is characteristically clueless like most of the leaders when he says, "We deal in deception. We don't deal in self-deception." There's a lot for both sides to figure out in the film's cat and mouse (rat!) equation. The resolution of this twisty movie should all but satisfy even the hardest core Mafioso movie fans.

Nicholson is unrelentingly as the silver-tongued devil, Costello. And DiCaprio gives an inspired performance as the nerve-wracked, beleaguered Costigan. Damon and Wahlberg have seldom been better as the tough-as-nails cops. It is brilliant how DiCaprio's and Damon's characters intersect so long without crossing each other's paths. Their dating interest is for a woman psychiatrist (Kristen Dalton) who brings both men together. Not only effective as a plot device, it creates a fascinating tension to the movie. Ironically, the plot is both complicated, yet easy to follow. Unlike many similar interlocking plot stories, this one is intricate enough to be fascinating, while seldom taxing its audience. The editing, which nowadays is taken for granted for slick professionalism, is just perfection. How Scorsese cuts and focuses, then backs up makes frenetic a lame description. The dialogue is intelligent: menacing, yet quick and witty. Without spoiling the movie, the film seems to comment on the excess of rats everywhere, and what seems to be implied by the departed is the body of secrets they take with them to their graves. For all its suspense and hijinx, 'The Departed' is probably the most thoroughly entertaining gangster venue since 'Pulp Fiction'.

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More The Departed reviews
review by . August 13, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Martin Scorcesse is one of Hollywood's most beloved directors.  When he made himself well known with Taxi Driver in the 70's (another fine film).  The Departed is far from being Martin Scorcesse's best film, but it is among the best (Goodfellas and Raging Bull are still better).  The Departed is a very stylistic movie.  For those who are bothered by violence (and if you are why on earth are you watching a Martin Scorcesse film anyway?) there's quite a bit in it.  Also, as …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A modern classic. Great script and great performences. Leo is amazing. You cant beat Jack Nicholson.
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The story itself did not feel like anything new but the directing and editing kept the tension high throughout the film. Everyone in the cast gave powerful deliveries and the Scorsese did an incredible job. I just don't know if it deserved best picture of the year.
Quick Tip by . July 19, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Departed is a pretty fun movie to watch, even if there are many parts of it that are especially brutal. It's a very violent, very bloody film that drops so many F-bombs it's not even funny. But it is good and there is a sense of humor there, even if some of it is rather bleak.
review by . April 11, 2009
The story is set in Boston's brutal underworld, where Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) is the all-powerful crime boss. He has mentored a young man (Matt Damon) through the police academy and now he's both a State Trooper and a member of the mob, while the Staties have their own man (Leonardo DiCaprio) working inside Costello's organization.     This movie is not for the squeamish; there are almost non-stop bloody killings and barely a line of dialogue that is isn't full of profanities. …
review by . November 11, 2007
Pros: Outstanding cinematography; compelling story-line; outstanding acting and direction.     Cons: Oh the profanity.     The Bottom Line: All-n-all The Departed was an enjoyable film and well worth seeing a second or third time, you know to catch what you may have missed the first or second viewing.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. I grew up in New England for the most part, in Newport, Rhode …
review by . June 08, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Witty, gritty, thrilling... the best gangster film I've seen in years.      Cons: A bit of a Deus ex machina ending, some predictable moments...negligable really.     The Bottom Line: Without a doubt the best Gangster flick I've seen in ages.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. "I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me. Years ago we had the …
review by . April 28, 2007
Having heard so many good things about this film, I had to see it for myself. I won't give a plot summary of the film, as it has been done to death, instead I'll let you know the highs and lows for me.      There are a lot of great quotes and lines throughout the movie. One of the first is the one I used as a title for this review, meaning "I will not serve" by James Joyce, from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Another is "The Irish are the only …
review by . March 21, 2007
It's no secret that "The Departed" is a remake of the successful Hong Kong movie. I've watched it several months ago and was very impressed. After watching "The Departed", I realized that I wanted watch it again. It is a completely new movie, spiritually. The affiliation in the screenplay to the original one is unavoidable, but Martin Scorsese did a great job in substantiating the cop and criminal story with his own interpretation.    This is probably different from other Martin …
review by . March 10, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Jack Nicholson playing the gangster     Cons: Robert De Niro not playing the gangster     The Bottom Line: It's been too long since the last gangster flick of this caliber.     Forget everything you ever knew about Martin Scorsese’s gangster movies right now. Just forget everything. Forget New York City, and forget about Robert De Niro too. Forget about all the droning voice-over narrations, the working class trench gangsters, …
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John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #37
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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Martin Scorsese makes a welcome return to the mean streets (of Boston, in this case) withThe Departed, hailed by many as Scorsese's best film sinceCasino. Since this crackling crime thriller is essentially a Scorsese-stamped remake of the acclaimed 2002 Hong Kong thrillerInfernal Affairs, the film was intensely scrutinized by devoted critics and cinephiles, and while Scorsese's intense filmmaking and all-star cast deserve ample acclaim,The Departedis also worthy of serious re-assessment, especially with regard to what some attentive viewers described as sloppy craftsmanship (!), notably in terms of mismatched shots and jagged continuity. But no matter where you fall on the Scorsese appreciation scale, there's no denying thatThe Departedis a signature piece of work from one of America's finest directors, designed for maximum impact with a breathtaking series of twists, turns, and violent surprises. It's an intricate cat-and-mouse game, but this time the cat and mouse are both moles: Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is an ambitious cop on the rise, planted in the Boston police force by criminal kingpin Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a hot-tempered police cadet who's been artificially disgraced and then planted into Costello's crime operation as a seemingly trustworthy soldier. As the multilayered plot unfolds (courtesy of a scorching adaptation by Kingdom of Heaven screenwriter William Monahan), Costigan and ...
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