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The Departed

2006 crime thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese

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Infernal affairs

  • Mar 2, 2007
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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 AFFAIRS long before THE DEPARTED came about; naturally I could not avoid constantly comparing between the two, which gives me a rather biased opinion. However, as a lone film rather than a remake of INFERNAL AFFAIRS, THE DEPARTED is truly stellar, and probably Scorsese's best effort since his masterwork, GOODFELLAS.

The plot is delicious: in the slums of Boston, one cop (Matt Damon) is a mole within the police force, working for criminal "rock star" Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), while another (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a mole within Costello's gang of thugs, working for the police force. Their objectives, however are the same: find the mole and smoke him out. Damon's character has high aspirations, and a very successful relationship with a police psychiatrist (Vera Farmiga). DiCaprio's character is gradually drawn deeper and deeper into the blackness of the criminal underworld, and begins to fear that he can never return. His is the character the audience really sympathizes with, the character who fights to do what's right no matter what, but who seemingly cannot win. After all, when you lead a double life so convoluted, how do you decide which side is the reality and which side is the facade?

As THE DEPARTED is a Martin Scorsese picture, it should go without saying that the acting is great, but it goes beyond that: it's exquisite. Matt Damon, in his first role as a villain, is supremely sleazy, more and more so as he becomes increasingly corrupt. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a far more attractive role in a far more attractive fashion, that of a tormented man with nothing to lose who has no choice but to continue fighting the good fight until his end. DiCaprio, who could easily have been dismissed as just another pretty face when he first appeared in the late 90s, has come a long way since, exercising his dramatic chops over the years until finally peaking with his marvelously sympathetic performance in THE DEPARTED. Aging Martin Sheen, surprisingly tough Alan Baldwin, and impressively rude Mark Wahlberg head up a fine supporting cast. The star who shines the brightest, though, is no surprise. Jack Nicholson's performance is a career highlight, ranking alongside his knockout performances in classics like ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and THE SHINING. Nicholson burns with intensity, and his performance is the very definition of "devilish" (there is a sumptuous scene in which Nicholson's character attends an opera, during which the lighting bathes him in a hellish shade of red, and in which he could easily be mistaken for Satan himself).

Martin Scorsese is as much of a star as any of those on-screen. He's at his finest in this film, using some new techniques while producing some moments that are pure Scorsese (namely a few sudden outbursts of violence a la GOODFELLAS or CASINO, and a breathtaking scene in which a character is thrown to his death from a rooftop). Through the picture, Scorsese uses swirling camera angles and randomly increases the volume of certain things, such as background voices or songs, only to cease those sounds abruptly and cut to something new. This rapidfire, nauseous editing style adds a certain surreality to the film that brings to mind shady old crime classics starring Humphrey Bogart, like THE MALTESE FALCON or THE BIG SLEEP, or even DARK PASSAGE.

Toss in a great soundtrack (including a delightful theme by the Boston-based heavy punk group Dropkick Murphys and songs by The Rolling Stones and Roger Waters) and a screenplay by William Monahan that recalls Greek tragedy and includes dialogue destined to become classic, and you have one hell of a film. THE DEPARTED is a masterpiece of filmmaking, and a whopping achievement for Scorsese, as well as his best picture since GOODFELLAS way back in '90. The question of superiority between THE DEPARTED and INFERNAL AFFAIRS is easily solved: THE DEPARTED is, hands down, the better film. Still, it doesn't quite have the kick that China's INFERNAL AFFAIRS had, and the ending of America's DEPARTED adds considerably more closure than that of AFFAIRS. Yet although justice is, more or less, served at THE DEPARTED's end, it still ends on a relatively sour note. For the moviegoer, however, that's cause for joy, because as Martin Scorsese has proved again and again, those films without happy endings are often the finest.

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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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Tom Benton ()
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Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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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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