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The Departed

2006 crime thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese

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"I Smell a Rat..."

  • Aug 13, 2009
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 you might expect from a M.S. film, there's lots of F-bombs and language.  This is not a film for your kids.

Who's In It: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga

I only put down the people who play a fairly big role.  The movie begins actually in the past with Costello (Nicholson) teaching a boy how to live.  That basically when you want something you have to take it.  And over the years Costello grows into being a big boss.  He's wanted by the Boston Police in may ways.  The kid he was teaching these things to grew up to be Colin (Matt Damon) and he now works for Costello as an adult.  He gets into the police force and rises to the top of internal affairs.  Frank Costello is a smart man.  He's specifically planted Colin there so that Colin can keep an eye on the cops... and therefore Frank can stay one step ahead.

That is until Queenan (Martin Sheen) and his deputy Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) get an idea.  William Costigan Jr. (DiCaprio) is a new guy on the force.  He doesn't seem like he should be there due to his SAT scores.  Nevertheless, they decide they can use him... by getting him into Costello's gang so that he can report on what Costello is doing.  This is the Boston Police's chance to get Costello.  But with the Boston Police putting their own rat in Costello's gang and Costello putting a rat in the police, it's amusing to see just how these two stories will play out.

And yet, things do begin to get hectic on both sides.  The police suspect Costello has someone in the unit and Costello suspects he's got a rat as well.  The story takes place on two fronts.  The first is how the police will bring Costello down.  The second is how Costello is going to find his rat.  The suspense is actually killing.  And for William, it actually gets dangerous really fast.  Costello uses far more dangerous methods for finding his rat.  Even worse, what will happen if Costello does? 

And what of Colin?  What will happen when the police find him?  Both rats leave a trail that can be traced.  But it turns out there's a lot more to both of their situations than they think.  Can Colin trust Costello?  More than that, can William trust that the police will keep him alive?  As the two progress and make their own mistakes that nearly out both of them (and get lucky in other instances) it comes to a big showdown where the truth comes out. 

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. 

For years Martin Scorcesse has been using Leonardo DiCaprio as a leading man in many instances.  That trend won't stop any time soon, but in this one, DiCaprio actually does a really good job.  DiCaprio has certainly grown from being a mere object to get girls to go to the theater to being a well accomplished actor.  Matt Damon also does a fantastic job in his role as Colin.  Jack Nicholson does a bang up job as well.  I've never been a big Nicholson fan.  I've always seen him as the kind of guy who tends to overact a lot (except for in that film Chinatown).  Here it's no different.  He's a good actor, but gets a little too into the role.  It's nice to see him having fun but he's so over the top that he doesn't actually come off as threatening or like a character we're supposed to see as being too dangerous.  He still does a good job, but because he spends so much time going a little over the top in his role... we're often reminded we're watching a film.

Nevertheless, every actor does a fairly good job at what they do here.  Particularly DiCaprio who shows once and for all that he can do more than what we might have been accustomed to seeing him do.  Perhaps the best job here comes from Mark Wahlberg who manages to be a tough as nails deputy.  It's a shame that I can't point to much else Wahlberg has done an incredible job in recently (I'm just not sure The Happening is going to help him out, you know?).  But he certainly does a really good job here.  The Departed happens to have a really good ensemble cast.

Is it the best of Scorcesse?  Partially.  It won the Best Picture for 2006, but I think the Academy just felt that it was time to honor this fine director, as the Academy sometimes does this.  Scorcesse is often said to be a master of the moving camera, and it's true here.  His camera movements aren't unique anymore, but we do feel like we're taking a ride along with the characters.  As they move, so does the camera.  The editing shots are also very nice as well.  It's just a well crafted film overall, with a tightknit script that is fast, furious, and is filled with a lot of quick wit.  If you're easily offended by violence or course language, though... well this film isn't for you.  But it has incredible actors and a well to do story.

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August 17, 2009
Great Review! I didn't see the original so I can't compare them, but I like this one a lot. I agree that DiCaprio did an outstanding job and showed a different side than we are used to seeing.
August 15, 2009
Great review, Sean! This was a good movie but I think I may have enjoyed it more if I didn't see the original Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs" on which this movie was strongly based on. The acting was good, and even Markie-Mark held his own, as for the direction, I like Scorsese but he loses points for originality for me.
September 09, 2009
In fact, he just dropped a review for "Infernal Affairs" that's pretty cool if you wanna compare the two films.
September 10, 2009
I was overdue in reviewing that one here in Lunch. Maybe I should review the whole trilogy...I did like the first sequel/prequel, but had mixed feelings about Infernal Affairs 3.
September 10, 2009
I'll have to get around to reading it soon.  And seeing it.  My brother just recently saw it so I'll probably bum it off him.
August 13, 2009
Great review Sean. This was a really good movie. The only recent movies that i could put in a mix with this masterpeice are American Gangster & Pride and Glory.
More The Departed reviews
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, …
review by . March 02, 2007
Cursed are those unfortunate souls who decide to experience the original version of something before experiencing the remake, be it an adaptation of a novel or, in the case of Martin Scorsese's THE DEPARTED, a remake of a previous masterpiece. That masterpiece was 2002's MOU GAAN DOU, or INFERNAL AFFAIRS, directed by Lau Wai Keung and Mak Siu Fai. The premise of the two films is the same, but the styles of the respective films are vastly different. I am one of the unfortunate souls who watched INFERNAL …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … 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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