guppy's film reviews

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Departed

Also reviewed this week: Man Of The Year

Director: Martin Scorsese
Notable Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin
Score: A-
Summary: Quality mob film, pretty much the kind of thing we expect from Scorsese.

The Departed is probably going to get a lot of whining about how it's based on a Chinese film (Wu Jian Dao) and why can't Scorsese make an original movie and blah blah blah and while that's true, it's really not the point. The Departed is a good movie with a strong cast.

The setup is pretty simple. Our scene is Boston (actually, it's New York City for most of the film, but shh), and our players are the State Troopers and the Irish mob. Each side has a mole in the other's crew, Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) for the "staties" and Colin Sullivan (Damon) for the mafiosos. Costigan is pretending to work for crime boss Frank Costello (Nicholson), but is really tipping off the police to what Costello is doing. Damon is doing the same thing inside the PD for Nicholson, under the noses of Police Chief Queenan (Sheen) and his lieutenant, Dignam (Wahlberg). The film is essentially a big game of back-and-forth.

The acting takes center stage. The big stars here are DiCaprio, Nicholson and -- believe it or not -- Wahlberg. I don't have a strong opinion on DiCaprio's work, but he captured most of my attention during the film; one of his stronger appearances, I think. Damon was a bit less memorable, in contrast. Likewise, while Sheen was a likeable character, I found Wahlberg more interesting to watch. Nicholson probably takes top honors, though; I generally find him a bit inconsistent, but he hit just the right note of sleaze with Costello. Also keep an eye out for Alec Baldwin; I'm a longtime fan of his, and while he gets limited screen time, he makes it count.

The script is a bit convoluted. I'm embarrassed to admit that -- whether due to bad seats, as I got pretty much the last seat in the house, or my own incompetence -- for a little while I had difficulty visually distinguishing Damon and DiCaprio, and was thus confused about the premise for a little while. Once I was certain I understood what was going on, everything clicked pretty well. The conclusion wraps everything up fairly well, though it's a bit abrupt; still, I'd rather have it that way, since the movie feels a bit long at 152 minutes.

Overall the film is nothing particularly new or adventurous for Scorsese, but it's exactly the kind of film he makes, and he makes them well. The Departed is worth seeing, and will probably be a popular pick on DVD.


  • I had a similar problem with distinguishing them at the start. Not sure what it was and it only lasted for like an instant at the start of a few scenes and didn't detract from the film.

    By Anonymous Ser Paddy, at 9:18 PM  

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