Saturday, April 27, 2013

989. The Departed (2006)

Running Time: 151 minutes
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: William Monahan, Siu Fai Mak, Felix Chong
Main Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen
Click here to view the trailer


This is kind of a special review, because it's the first time on the blog that I'm going to get the chance to talk about Martin Scorsese - a favorite director of mine, one that I discovered slowly, on my own, without any real coaxing by anyone else. It's also the first time I'll be discussing the work of Leonardo DiCaprio, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors.

To detail the full plot of "The Departed", would take far too long because there are too many tiny intricacies that discussing every character, their motivation and specific role would be ridiculous. However, just covering the basics may be too short, so I'll try my best to find a happy medium. The film is set in Boston and revolves around big-time mob boss Frank Costello (Nicholson). Frank is a made man and at his age, he still reigns supreme over the criminal underworld of the Irish-American communities of Boston. At a young age, Colin Sullivan (Damon) is hand-picked by Frank to be one of his number one men, with the mindset being; treat him well at an early age and he'll always be on your side. Fast forward a lot of years and Colin is all grown up and being planted into the police force, via Frank, to be his man on the inside. Colin goes through the years of training that it takes to become a police officer and is almost immediately promoted to a plain clothes Sergeant. Meanwhile, William Corrigan Jr. (DiCaprio) is legitimately one of the good guys and is also going through police training. Coming from a sketchy, ghetto frequented background and a family with a pride-less history, William hopes to shake away the bad examples set by the family that came before him. Once a member of the State Police, William is approached with the opportunity to go undercover, into Frank's organization. His superiors figure that with his tumultuous past, Frank won't think twice when William approaches him about becoming a member of the criminal underworld. Now, we've got two rats: one good rat mixing with bad company and one bad rat mixing with the boys in blue. It all heats up very fast and provides the audience with one intense movie going experience.


I feel like I was born to nitpick, so let's go with that first and then segue into the good stuff. My biggest complaint, and I really hate admitting this, is that, at times, the film is a LITTLE too confusing. It's not the fact that you've got to keep everyone's roles in order: Matt Damon is a bad guy pretending to be a good one, Leonardo DiCaprio is a good guy pretending to be a bad one, etc, etc. It's more when they start talking about micro processors, deals between Frank and the Chinese and all this mumbo jumbo. In a perfect world, Frank's specific activities would've been kept as simple as possible, because the real meat of the film lies with the two moles. The other thing that confused me a little bit...just a little bit, was the ending. Matt Damon's character opens his apartment door to find Mark Wahlberg standing with a gun pointed on him. Dignam (Wahlberg) is dressed in shady attire, complete with shoe covers on his feet. What's that all about?? Is it supposed to be implied that Madolyn gave the envelope to Dignam, which contained the truth about Colin, and therefore Dignam went, on official police business, and murdered Colin? Why wouldn't he just arrest him? Or are we meant to assume that Dignam was also working for Frank and because Colin killed Frank, Dignam was there to kill Colin? The rat at the very end of the picture would signal that the latter is very possibly true - the fact that rats exist everywhere. My other nitpick is SOME of the acting. Here's the rundown on the acting in this movie:

DiCaprio - shines, stands head and shoulders above all of the other talent. I truly think that when I'm older (much older) Leonardo DiCaprio will be the actor that me and my elderly peers talk about, much like people today talk of Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.

Nicholson - good, but showing some wear & tear. This SHOULD HAVE been Nicholson's swan song, as he passed the great actor torch onto brighter stars, namely Leo. It pretty much was, but he did "The Bucket List" and one other movie since, so technically...not a swan song.

Damon - Good and almost great, but not quite. I think if he hadn't been opposite DiCaprio, his star may have shined a little brighter. 

Wahlberg - Well I always give credit for trying and Wahlberg certainly tried to shine next to the big boys, but proved he's destined and probably much more suited for Michael Bay films.

Sheen - Proved to be just as good a veteran actor as Nicholson. I was impressed that this old dog still had a couple of good tricks up his sleeve.

Baldwin - I love Baldwin when he's a supporting player. If he's the star, he usually fails, but he does great when the pressure's off and he was fine here.

Farminga - I think she's a pretty decent actress. I think she's been given some big opportunities, early in her career (this and "Up in the Air") and has done well with that. I think she'd benefit by doing some smaller roles and honing her craft.

So that's the acting scorecard and you really can't sneeze at much of that, as it all ranges from good to great, with Leo outshining the lot of them. Of course, the story is the real star of the show, as you've got a truly original idea (other than the fact that this IS a remake of a Hong Kong film, thus deeming it quite unoriginal...but I mean the original, original idea), that people are going to obviously get into. At the very same time mob decides to put a mole in the police force, the police force decide to put a mole in the mob and the intensity and suspense of it all is, sometimes, to much to bear. "The Departed" comes complete with those "sit on the edge of your seat" moments, not to mention those moments where you just cannot help but try and communicate with the fictitious characters, through your T.V. If you're watching this movie and not yelling "Get out of there!" or "Oh my God, he's gonna' catch him!!", then you're not getting into the full experience that this motion picture has to offer. Martin wants you to have fun and he knows how to make an audience have fun, all the while making a high quality movie. That's what I love about Scorsese, because first and foremost, he's a fan and knows what we want to see.

RATING: 8/10  So a pretty good score, but I've seen Martin do better and we'll get the chance to review some of those better outings, down the line. By the way, "The Departed" really SHOULD be Scorsese's swan song to the gangster genre, as I think he's said everything he needs to say, with the use of blood and excessive violence.


April 27, 2013  10:15pm


  1. Not in my edition, but one I chose to watch
    Well, sort of OK, but not a 'keeper' (ie one I'd want to keep a copy to watch again)

    1. Oh I'm sorry you didn't like this as much as I did. Certainly not a top notch Scorsese, but a darn good one, in my eyes.

      BTW, what is the last movie in your edition of the book Ray?

  2. They sometimes shuffle them about a bit to fit the layout when they drop something, so I will name the last 'few'... Talk to her, Gangs of NY, Pianist, City of God, Russian Ark, Chicago, Barbariab Invasins.. and the final one is kill Bill vol 1

    1. Got it. I really wanna see "The Barbarian Invasions"...maybe someday.


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