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The Departed

2006 crime thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese

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"Whaddya on yer period?"

  • Jun 8, 2007
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 church. That was only a way of saying - we had each other. The Knights of Columbus were real head-breakers; true guineas. They took over their piece of the city. Twenty years after an Irishman couldn't get a f&*$ing job, we had the presidency. May he rest in peace. That's what the n*&$ers don't realize. If I got one thing against the black chappies, it's this - no one gives it to you. You have to take it." These opening lines by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) in Scorsese's film "Departed" are delivered cheerfully and without rancor, just letting you know how things are here. They definitely set the stage for this interesting drama.

"Departed" isn't just about what lies under the belly of Boston's clever workingman exterior, as the title implies it is about those who pass on before us, why and who gets left behind. A rather cold, business-like and mock polite label for the truth left behind, revealed or unrevealed, when a person becomes an empty body. Typically a heck of a mess that someone else will be cleaning up and only the Gods know for sure what really went down. Frank is one ruling class in Southies' "Irish mafia", and we see right from the beginning just how much of a family business he runs. Taking young fatherless Colin Sullivan under his wing, we see Colin (Matt Damon) eagerly accept the role of adopted prodigal son and rise rapidly through the ranks of Boston's state police force. He's not the only "statie" with roots in the rough south side of Boston though.

Colin is so wrapped up in his own ambitions that he never noticed young Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) training right beside him. Billy is in a unique position though as he's never hid his family connections...or his anger and disdain of them. Outside the hospital room of his dying mother, Billy confronts his Uncle Ed in a personally satisfying moment, "Maybe it would have done you some good to have some *questions* from time to time, you know? "Am I an @$$hole? Are my kids a mess? Is my wife a money-grubbing wh&*#?" I mean, those are questions, right? "Have I ever been good to my dying sister or am I just now pretending to be?"

But Colin's bosses Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) want him to be something more than a Statie. "You got a 1400 on your exams. You're an astronaut, kid. Not a Statie." In fact, they want to kick him out altogether! Sit back in their web and watch him do some time for assault and then work his way back into the family. They want what Costello already has on them...another man on the inside. This gritty cat and mouse game between two of Boston's most charming and skilled rats unfolds like a particularly nasty highway wreck, unpredictably and with a rather gruesome hypnotic power. Cheese is being left out all over the city, while those in the shadows wait to see who will take the bait. The names of the departed will be remembered by those left standing.


This star-studded cast really made for a solid family of characters. Powerful, clever and charming men playing powerful, clever and charming men works! While the writing occasionally suffers from inevitable predictability, and the ending feels anticlimactic, the story itself and especially the play between it's characters kept me riveted. There were times when the tension was so tight that we were the ones who snapped, holding our breaths or popping up suddenly to rush for a new drink before the scene changed.

The supporting cast here was fabulous and it was good to see such talented actors in relatively small roles willing to lend their presence never-the-less. Vera Farmiga was perhaps the most consistently likable and down-to-earth character as the love interest that unwittingly gets caught between two of the main players in this story. It was good also to see Anthony Anderson, much better known for his comedic roles like Mahalik from the Scary Movie series, branching out and taking on a serious role. People like Ray Winstone (Teague from Cold Mountain, and Bors from King Arthur) as Costello's right hand man Mr. French and David O'Hara (Stephen of "my island" fame from Braveheart) as Fitzy help to form a solid foundation for those dancing their more complicated character's to rely upon. These are confident actors well used to playing tough, gritty characters who are more familiar with the rough edge of life, and it shows here.

All in all, I have to say that I've been enjoying this trend in Hollywood lately of filling a film with every good actor willing to take on a role, and it definitely seems to support weaker moments in a film where perhaps the writing falters or a situation doesn't quite fly. This is not Martin Scorsese's best work, perhaps, but is was definitely clever and entertaining.

There's a lot of humor hidden in all this drama too. Witty lines, verbal fencing, black observations on society delivered with wry chuckles are all just about as frequent as the ever-present swearing. It helps to grease the lives we see rolling past us, and lends an air of humanity and realism to everything. Personally, I'm of the belief that Laughter will get you through things that could send you over the edge of reason, and I don't look down on anyone who laughs at a funeral, for instance. That's life, that's what makes it worth living. Watching Billy become more and more desperate to hang onto his sanity and his life is made more real as he looses his ability to laugh. Lighter moments also helped to ease the tension that earmarks this film as a great Thriller. ****
Exchanges like,

Police Camera Tech: "Who the f**k are you?"
Dignam: "I'm the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy."

Can't help but pull a chuckle from me as we've all wanted to say such things to less than competent co-workers at some point. The film definitely earns it's R rating with casual violence, adult situations and language. It is however, equally worthy of the awards it won (four Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director with an additional 44 nominations, honestly too many to list here) which isn't always the case.

Nicholson, DiCaprio, Wahlberg, Damon, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen were perfectly cast for these roles and I can't imagine anyone else delivering quite like they do. Wahlberg was nominated for Best Supporting Actor in this role, and I can see why, yet he managed to look like he was just having fun! Not that I'm complaining. While "The Departed" has it's tiny flaws like oh-so-convenient moments, these are far out shadowed by it's dramatic appeal, talented cast, entertaining dialog, and thrilling edge.

Special Features:

The nine deleted scenes Introduced by director Martin Scorsese, are interesting and a favorite feature for me on any DVD. None of the scenes were vital to the film though and you can see why they were edited out.

"Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitely Bulger, Southie and The Departed" is a real gem in the special features category. Basically a 21 minute history of the real-life gangster that Costello was based on, we see interviews with William Monahan (the screenwriter), Scorsese, and several journalists. Very interesting and I could have watched a bit more of this sort "truth behind the fiction" as I find it fascinating to see what inspires and how a story or character develops its own life apart from fact.

"Crossing Criminal Cultures" is 24 minutes of Scorsese and cast members discussing gangster films in general and Scorsese's films specifically. In my opinion this really should have been combined with the "Stranger Than Fiction" piece to help balance out the lengthy 86 minute "Scorsese on Scorsese" documentary from 2004. That particular bonus feature is not currently available on t he HD or Blu-ray versions, incidentally. Personally, I remembered the interview from it's original airing, and while mildly interesting to me, it would probably be more interesting to Scorsese fans. I skipped it during this viewing.

Final Word:

An excellent film equally worthy of it's awards and R rating, a Scorsese gem, and must for fans of gangster films. This 2 disc DVD with the extras is definitely more interesting than the bare bones editions that were also released. At an average of four dollars more for this set, I'd shell it out. The Departed is one of those classic films that you could enjoy over and over, you may as well have the extras too.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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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 . 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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Quinn Blackburn ()
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Hello, my name is Quinn. :o) I also answer to Mom, YaYa, and occasionally Entwife. I enjoy Beauty wherever I find it... Nature, Music, Art in all its forms... I believe these to be true and sacred things … 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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