“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”
The Departed (a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs) is the story of an undercover cop infiltrating a mob and an undercover mobster posing as a cop and how the two try to catch each other. With a cast of some the industry’s most respected and a riveting plot, this Martin Scorsese film is truly an outstanding piece of cinema.
In The Departed (which I often consider my favorite movie of all time) Martin Scorsese (my second favorite director of all time) directs three of my favorite actors of all time; Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, who all deliver excellent performances. Damon plays the gang member under notoriously ruthless and alarmingly merciless leader Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson, who took him under his wing as a child and put him through police academy to become his personal informant from inside the department. DiCaprio plays Billy Costigan, a cop sent undercover into Costello’s gang by police captain Queenan (Martin Sheen). As time goes by, they both start to suspect an enemy is invading their own and thus it is a race for each to catch the other first, in order to stay alive.
Matt Damon, known as Hollywood’s good guy and family man, usually plays a hero. Damon’s character Colin, noticeably more villainous than his previous roles, plays for the bad guys and Damon gets the chance to truly showcase his acting skills. There does however seem to be a very thin line between who really are the ‘good’ people in the story.
Nicholson is the heart of the film, playing the deranged Costello through a wonderfully theatrical performance. The rest of the acting is perfect as well, including Mark Wahlberg and Vera Farmiga who plays both Billy and Sullivan’s love interest.
The story is set in Boston and from the get go it has a heavy, depressing feeling of hopelessness. Both Billy and Colin lead dangerously fake lives accompanied by a relentless sense of paranoia and fear of their true identities being discovered. It is a scary life to lead, if you can even call hiding your identity really living.
The plot is extremely complicated; a brilliantly woven tale with depth that has to be watched more than once to decipher the many layers of it. Martin Scorsese’s storytelling makes for a rigorously entertaining film and finally earned him a much deserved first Academy Award for best director as well as a Golden Globe in the same category.
It is filled with sickening violence and sentences without f bombs are few and far between. The dialogue, all spoken in rough Boston accents, is quick and engaging; written superbly by William Monahan and rightfully earning him the Academy Award for best wrting/adapted screenplay.
I talk a lot about how great music always stands out to me. The Departed soundtrack does just that; it is amazing. The film plays out to classics like ‘One Way Out’ by The Allman Brothers Band and ‘Sail on Sailor’ by the Beach Boys as well as the more contemporary Celtic infused metal ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston’ by the Dropkick Murphys (my personal favorite). The music choice and style is very unique but somehow works seamlessly with the movie.
The Departed, after competing with acclaimed films like Babel and The Queen, won best picture at the 79th Academy Awards in 2007. A rightful award for such a great film.
The Departed contains the most important factor, to me, in a movie: entertainment. It is a grisly film with a complex and brilliant storyline backed by outstanding acting along with all the fine details that make a good movie. But most of all it is gripping and thoroughly entertaining and will beg to be watched again and again.