The Departed (2006)

Here’s something I wrote in the Long Ago about The Departed, and after re-watching it, it is still how I feel.

With five Oscar nominations heading into tomorrow night’s Academy Awards ceremony, The Departed certainly has developed the reputation of an excellent movie. I was somewhat leery about watching it, worried that it would be another in a long line of Best Picture nominees that were clearly well-made, well-acted movies but were only borderline entertaining. Add in that it was a Martin Scorsese-directed film and I was even more worried that I wouldn’t like it since I’m not the biggest fan of Scorsese’s most popular movies. Thankfully all that worrying was for naught as Scorsese has finally made a movie that is an entertaining – albeit derivative – movie.

Actually, saying that’s derivative is pretty redundant as The Departed is a remake of Infernal Affairs, a Japanese movie released in 2002. Unlike the recent Americanization of Japanese movies (The Ring, The Grudge) it has nothing to do with creepy off-putting children scaring the bejezus out of you. Departed just has Jack Nicholson doing his best Tony Montana-descent into madness performance, with a stellar supporting cast grounding the movie in the wonderful cinematic environment of Boston.

It’s the tale of two cops, with Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) infilitrating the Boston police force on behalf of crime boss Frank Costello (Nicholson) and the other, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) going the other way and immersing himself into Costello’s gang. The story takes place over a few years, but thankfully it doesn’t feel like your typical epic Scorsese movie, time is actually heavily compressed in this movie. Sullivan’s on the inside helping Costello keep a half-step ahead of the Boston cops, while Costigan sacrifices his identity for the Special Investigations department, headed up by the fatherly Olvier Queenan (Martin Sheen) and the foul-mouthed Dignam (Mark Wahlberg).

It’s an intriguing story made all the better by the excellent performances of the entire cast. I’ve never been a Mark Wahlberg fan, but I’d definitely be casting my vote for him to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year and those are words that it kills me to type. The most enjoyable performance for me personally was Alec Baldwin, probably his best small part performance since Glengarry Glen Ross. I still have no idea how Matt Damon wasn’t nominated for his role, other than maybe DiCaprio’s performance split the vote but DiCaprio was nominated for his part in Blood Diamond so it beats the hell out of me.

The only two problems I had with the movie are spoilerish in nature, but definitely made the movie feel cartoony with one of the major characters semi-goofy – but heart-wrenching – death as well as the last shot of the movie. Those two sections definitely lend credence to Scorsese personally referring to The Departed as his “B-movie”, but it’s still one of the worthier Best Picture-nominated movies in recent years. It’s entertaining, delivers an engaging story with electric performances and it’s one of those movies that you could see yourself re-watching over and over again.

4.5 / 5

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About SkoochXC
Long-time blogger, Canadian, cine-snark-aphile, Tweeter and generally lonely hearted guy.

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