74 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant remake of "Infernal Affairs"
It's a tricky business adapting a foreign movie for an American audience. Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" captures all the best elements of the original film "Infernal Affairs" and works traditional Scorsese themes and material into the film making it very much his own and every bit the equal to the Chinese film. Featuring outstanding performances all around perhaps this...
Published on October 13, 2006 by Wayne Klein
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A departure
Like many of us, I'm in awe of Martin Scorsese's talent. There is no doubt that he is one of the world's premier story tellers and I'm a huge fan. He'd already won the Academy award for Best Director before I saw the film and even though I hadn't seen it, I thought it was well-deserved and long overdue praise. Needless to say, when I saw it listed as a film choice, while...
Published on April 29, 2007 by Dextra L. Suggs
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74 of 82 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant remake of "Infernal Affairs",
It's a tricky business adapting a foreign movie for an American audience. Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" captures all the best elements of the original film "Infernal Affairs" and works traditional Scorsese themes and material into the film making it very much his own and every bit the equal to the Chinese film. Featuring outstanding performances all around perhaps this film will finally earn Scorsese the Oscar for Best Director that he deserved for "Raging Bull" over twenty years ago.
Two state trooper academy graduates one an undercover officer named Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a mole in the department Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) working for crime lord Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson)have opposite goals. Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) charge Costigan with gathering as much dirt as possible on Sullivan so they can finally take him out. They work up a false history for Costigan which includes a brief stint in prison to create credibility. By comparison Sullivan is a boy scout who rises to the top of his department rapidly working for Ellerby (Alec Baldwin)in a rival department. Both are charged with ferriting out the mole in their respective organizations and both are romancing the same woman (Vera Farmiga) without ever meeting.
It's a brilliantly constructed game of cat and mouse with each playing the respective role at one point in time. Filled with brilliant visuals that echo the themes of the script adapted by William Monahan ("Kingdom of Heaven")from the script by Siu Fai Mak and Felix Chong the film manages to stay true to the elements that worked best in the Chinese film while incorporating elements unique to "The Departed". DiCaprio and Damon give complex, compelling performances as opposite sides of the same coin. Nicholson plays Costello with psychopathic intensity at times without going too far over the top. The entire cast gives stellar performances but I'd like to note tree actors in particularly who do the most with their limited roles--Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen (who replaced two other actors that had to drop out--Robert DeNiro and Gerard McSorley)and Mark Whalberg all three give intense performances and inhabit their characters fully. Vera Farmiga handles her role of Madolyn equalling the big boys despite the fact that her character isn't given as much screen time by comparison. Special note should also be made of actor Ray Winstone ("The Proposition", "King Arthur" and "Cold Mountain") who gives a nice edgy performance as Mr. French.
The film runs 2 hours and 22 minutes. Scorsese uses every minute to allow the actors to build their characters or for brilliant set pieces. The film does sag a bit towards the middle but that's partially due to its complex set up for the story during the first twenty minutes of the film.
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remake? An original? Or both...?,
I read some of the other reviews, and I'm frustrated that so many people are finding a problem with Martin Scorcese's sensibilities in adapting a Hong Kong -set thriller to an American venue, using his legendary experience to create a very American "original". I was immensely entertained, baffled at all the intended times, intrigued at the appropriate times, and thoroughly blown away with the remarkable ending. Others have blabbed away plot-points, and I'm glad I didn't read those reviews before I saw the film. There's no doubt that Scorcese is deserving of Oscar recognition, and trying to make comparisons to his other films doesn't fly with me. This was a brutal display of some very mean people, but not as gory as "Goodfellas", not as character driven as "Raging Bull" and not as gritty as "Taxi Driver". It WAS, however, a terrific plot-driven narrative, and Mr. Scorcese should be applauded for taking this very complicated story, where each character is constantly affecting the others, and making it coherent. Nicholson was, indeed, playing a familiar version of Nicholson, so it was a natural choice in casting but no stretch for the great Jack. The 2-disc DVD is fine, with ample interviews with Mr. Scorcese, and other interesting stuff, especially about Bulgar, the guy after which Nicholson's character was based. Very glad I made the investment. BTW: The sextet from "Lucia di Lammermoor" is by Donizetti, not Puccini. UPDATE: 2-26-07: I'm glad it won the Oscar.
29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ratology,
At long last a great movie by Scorese again. After a disappointing Aviator and an impressive but somehow soulless Gangs of New York, this one is entirely satisfactory.
A highly suspenseful cops and gangsters story with the main driver provided by the mutual spy set-up, i.e. both sides having their undercover agents in the opposite camp.
Leo D. and Matt Damon are perfect in their parts as "rats". Of course they represent different species of the rodent. Leo is the good rat, who hides among the baddies and has to pretend to be one of them. You suffer with him and are near a nervous breakdown, just as he. Damon is the smooth and admirable bad rat who seems to his environment like a good solid bloke, but the viewer knows better. Well, also Wahlberg's character does not like him, but he likes no one. This is the Hitchcockian technique of letting the audience know more, which increases suspense dramatically. Imagine the same story, but you don't know who is the bad rat. That would be much less interesting.
Nicholson as the evil gangster boss is possibly slightly overdone, but very well so. A good cast in the cop team includes Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg, the latter being mainly remarkable for his foul mouth and his crucial role in the story's conclusion.
The movie is a remake of an excellent Hongkong movie of a few years ago. Scorsese's version is quite different, but neither better nor worse. Most Hongkong reviewers seem to have decided not to like the new version. Up to them.
27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scorsese's best since Goodfellas.,
I just saw Martin Scorsese's new film, The Departed, last night and I have to say - it was excellent! Scorsese is back in top form here, revisiting the mobster genre that he has been known for over the years. I would rank this one up with his classic film - and one of my personal favorites - Goodfellas. It's nice to see Marty swing back to his gritty, ultra-violent self!
First of all, the acting, directing, and just about everything else was state of the art. Jack Nicholson was perfect as Frank Costello, a mob boss who is in charge of the organized crime ring in Boston. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Billy Costigan, an undercover cop who sneaks his way into Costello's gang so he can be an informant for the police department. Meanwhile, Matt Damon plays Colin Sullivan, an informant for Costello's mob who works for the police department, and is on his way to be promoted in the Special Investigations Unit. Both men cross paths, and fall in love with the same woman - a psychologist played by Vera Farmiga from the little-known indie Running Scared. Each man starts to become consumed by their work, and when they are both in danger of being found out, only then do tensions rise, and things get a little out of hand. The performances from the leads are all Oscar-worthy. I never thought that I'd ever say that about Matt Damon. Well, let me back that up. He was quite good in Good Will Hunting and he was great in The Talented Mr. Ripley, and his performance here is no exception. Leonardo DiCaprio gives his best performance here since What's Eating Gilbert Grape. DiCaprio is becoming a fixture in Scorsese's recent films, almost as if he is the director's newfound muse amongst male actors, the last one being Robert DeNiro. This is Jack Nicholson's first film with Scorsese, which is hard to believe, but it is true. Jack is back to what he does best in this role, and, pardon the cliche, but it fits him like a glove. His performance is one of ferocious intensity, and everytime he's on the screen, you feel really uneasy...and that's not a bad thing! The direction is flawless. I've already said enough about Scorsese, but the man knows how to make a great film! I must also give credit to the editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, who worked on Goodfellas. Her editing makes the film seem fast paced and hyperactive, and for a film that is thirty minutes short of being three hours long, that's amazing!
However, if you are easily offended by profanity or graphic violence, then stay far away! They are both here, and in abundance.
165 of 223 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not A Departure For Scorsese,
After getting some uncalled for flack recently for his films "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" director Martin Scorsese returns to those gritty mean streets he seems to know oh so well. How odd it is then to find out that the film did not come from Scorsese's imagination. Instead it is a remake of the 2004 Hong Kong action/thriller "Infernal Affairs". But, that doesn't really matter because Scorsese takes the material and makes it his own.
"The Departed" is going to get some unfair comparisons with "Infernal Affairs" from devoted fans of the original. I never like to do that. I also don't like when people compare the book to the movie version. Both pieces of work exist within their own world. They are seperate from each other.
Leonardo DiCaprio (the recent favorite of Scorsese, whom in my opinion needs to find a new muse already) plays Billy Costigan, who comes from a poor working class family that mostly consist of family member who were on the wrong side of the law (depending which side of the law you're on). He has managed though to work his way up and become a cop.
Matt Damon plays Colin Sullivan, who appears to be the exact opposite. Sullivan is one of those people who probably got straight "A's", stayed at home and studied while you were out playing baseball and was a loner. He too has become a police officer who is well thought of and clearly on a successful path.
These two characters never share a great amount of screentime together in "The Departed" but their impact on each other is apparent throughout the entire film.
Costigan is told by one of his superior officers Oliver Queenam (Martin Sheen) that because of his background he is not really "police material". Queenam flat out tells him you will never make it as a cop. So Queenam tells Costigan he has a special assignment for him. He wants Costigan to go undercover and get into Frank Costello's (Jack Nicholson) inner circle where the Boston Police have been trying to arrest him for years.
"The Departed" soon takes on one of Scorsese's favorite themes, childhood loyalty. Sullivan, back in his youth, became very friendly with Costello and now as a cop has turned into a crooker officer. How will the Boston police ever catch Costello?
The performances in "The Departed" are all pitch perfect. DiCaprio and Damon, who get top billing, are not just the only two worth watching. Even supporting characters like the ones played by Alec Baldwin and just so it's not all all boy's show, Vera Farmiga as Madolyn are both enjoyable to watch. But, perhaps the most memorable performances is the one given by Jack Nicholson. Rarely has an actor relished playing a villian moreso. The sheer exuberance of his performance makes the screen come alive. This isn't the Jack of recent films like "Something's Gotta Give" and "About Schmidt". Jack lets loose here and plays the role with the same spirit he did the Joker in "Batman". I would even go as far as saying every performance here deserves to get an Oscar nomination.
Some people may ask is this film as good as Scorsese's other films? That's a stupid question. Who cares? It seems, according to the reviews and box-office numbers (this marks Scorsese's highest box-office debut) people are responding well to this film. It is a powerful, well made gangster film that is about more than violence. As I said it is about loyalty and who we choose to give that loyalty to. This is one of the best films of the year! In fact the movie is so good I'm sure Scorsese will lose another Oscar race, just as his best films always do.
Bottom-line: One of the year's best films. "The Departed" finds Scorsese going back to the gritty mean streets of his past and makes this remake a work of his own. Every performance here deserves to get nominated.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Crime Drama Ignites the Screen,
Based on the Hong Kong thriller, "Infernal Affairs" (2002), Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" is a shotgun blast to the pandering cinema that has afflicted the American screen of late. Scorsese has returned to the urban crime-drama genre that he helped to make famous with "Mean Streets" (1973) and "Goodfellas" (1990).
Scorsese, a consummate auteur, shares many thematic interests with his screenwriter, William Monahan. A Boston police officer, William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), goes undercover in the local mob with the hope that he may purge himself of his family's criminal history (redemption and honor being major themes in Scorsese's films, such as "Gangs of New York"). Costigan's job is to provide enough evidence to allow the police to apprehend the head mobster, the lurid and merciless Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Costello has infiltrated the police force with a mole of his own, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), who Costello has been grooming since childhood (corruption being another important theme for Scorsese, see "Goodfellas"). Each of the moles quickly becomes aware of the other's presence, and they both realize that if either is going to survive, he must quickly find his opponent.
Monahan lathers his screenplay with the most vulgar language this side of Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction." Supporting actors Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg, who both play upper level officers, deliver deliciously profane dialogue with side-splitting ease and authority. Matt Damon infuses the antagonistic Sullivan with poise, sophistication, and charisma. Leonardo DiCaprio's protagonist is conversely something of a blunt and unstable instrument. DiCaprio's work recalls that of James Dean, as he plays a frazzled young man waging war with the world and within himself. Surprisingly, screen legend Jack Nicholson is something of a weak link in the cast. He uses his trademark mixture of charisma and menace in a familiar and admittedly somewhat goofy portrayal of villainy.
The real star of the film is Scorsese. Taking a cue from an early exchange between Wahlberg's character and Costigan - "What's the matter don't you know any Shakespeare?" - Scorsese's presents the film as though it were one of the playwright's tragedies. Tragic and comedic tones are expertly juxtaposed. Music, be it classic rock or Howard Shore's score, is ever present. The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" is used to great effect during the film's opening. It acts as a harbinger of things to come. Violence is explosive and brutal. Michael Ballhaus' lighting is atmospheric and exaggerated. Note a scene in Sullivan's office where a bizarre light effect casts an X across the wall (Scorsese litters the mise en scène with X's, both as an homage to Howard Hawks's "Scarface" and a visual representation of Sullivan and Cositgan's duality). Relentless camera movement and Thelma Schoonmaker's jump cuts further give rise to a sense of nerve-jangling tension.
Under Scorsese' own admission, "The Departed" is his first attempt at a film with a plot. On paper, the film does indeed represent one of his more traditional, studio-friendly ventures. He is working with a very bankable cast and a three-act narrative (most of his films have been more concerned with character studies than a archetypal stroyline). Despite the creative limitations that may be associated with a more commercial project, Scorsese is more than able to elicit his own passions. "The Departed" is a fierce, raucous entertainment that is not to be missed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why are they always picking on the Southies?,
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Departed (Full Screen Edition) (DVD)
I don't write spoilers. There are some real believability problems w/the way they play out the plot. To be honest, I don't feel Leo brought his A game to this one. His interpretation of a Southie needs work. Despite the flaws, It's an enjoyable film. You can pick it up cheap. You'll be glad you did. Not a bad film by any stretch.
21 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best American Film since "Pulp Fiction",
Martin Scorsese should easily finally take home his first Academy Award for Best Director for "The Departed". With consummate skill he has assembled bewilderingly complex and varied ingredients: performers, story, settings, photography - with the result being a film that grabs your attention in the first few moments and doesn't let up until the credits roll. The film clocks in at a minute less than 2 1/2 hours. With about 10 minutes left the Mrs. and I shared that we both needed a bathroom break after our half-gallon sodas... but neither of us dared leave.
The screenplay, I learn, was adapted by William Monahan from a Hong Kong script by Siu Fai Mak which was translated into English as "Internal Affairs". I also read that Mr. Scorsese didn't see the Chinese film but, rather, worked from an English translation of the "Internal Affairs" script. The story is a compelling narrative. Mr. Monahan has adapted the story to a Boston setting of Irish cops and gangsters. The dialog is full of sharp, witty one-liners, but also with a realistic, gritty ring of truth. The language reflects the setting of South Boston, not Sesame Street, so if your ears burn with the constant use of profanity - you may want to wait for an "edited for TV" version.
The cast is brilliant. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a sizzling performance as a Boston "Southie" who joins the police force at a tender age, but because of his family (his father was a local tough guy and his uncle a low level mobster)and intelligence(we're told he scored 1400 on his SAT - not usual police recruit material) he is recruited by a secret undercover unit to infiltrate the local mafia. We see him put through a grueling interview by his to-be superiors, Martin Sheen, full of paternal wisdom, and Mark Wahlberg, full of suspicions and vulgarities (but with many of the movie's best moments in a role that is no higher than maybe 5th or 6th billing.) At the same time DiCaprio is being recruited to infiltrate the mob, Matt Damon has been sent by the same mob to join the police force where, with his intelligence, etc, he is soon in a parallel secret unit investigating both his boss, Irish Mobster Frank Costello (in yet another defining performance by Jack Nicholson) and the "mole" who it is apparent has infiltrated the police force. (Among the many fine scenes are one where Damon gets to inform Nicholson that he is now leading the investigation to find - himself.)
Jack's performance is a Nicholson special. Frank Costello is a nearly untouchable sociopath. (The reason Costello is "ungettable" by the Massachusetts police force is one of dozens of intricate twists and sub-plots.) Costello is vulgar and menacing and everyone in Boston quakes in his presence, from local priests to the scariest hit men. The Mrs. and I differ in our opinion of whether the film revolves around Costello (her view), since all the other characters revolve around him and, after all, he's played by the great Jack Nicholson, or whether DiCaprio's Billy Costigan is the main character (my opinion), since he has the most screen time and, if this story has a protagonist, Costigan is it. It's enjoyable to discuss such things, but it's quibbling. "The Departed" has so many well-drawn characters breathed to life by stellar actors in brilliant performances that it could easily populate two *good* films!
Vera Farmiga was previously unknown to me, but she delivers in the only major female role as a police psychiatrist who graduated from Harvard, but takes the presumably lower-paying position because she wants to serve her community while she also helps her patients. In one of the trickiest roles of the film she becomes romantically attracted to both "moles", not knowing the "true identity" of either until the climax of the film. Her steely determination after she discovers that Matt Damon is the police department "rat" reminds me of Alida Valli's famous performance in "The Third Man" and her final scene in this movie (walking away from a funeral in a cemetery towards the camera in a single shot, completely ignoring the man who thinks he has romantic possibilities with her) is an obvious homage by Scorsese to Carol Reed's film classic.
Ray Winstone (as Costello's right-hand man, "Frenchie") and Alec Baldwin (as the over-matched police detective who is trying to bring together the various machinations of the Boston detectives and undercover mob infiltrators) lead the next tier of supporting performances. It's just another sign of the overall quality of Mr. Scorsese's picture that actors who would "star" in other films take on roles that in other films would be fleshed out by unknowns.
The plotting and timing are relentless. There are a half dozen scenes with more edge-of-your-seat white-knuckle tension than a hundred chainsaw and machete wielding madmen movies combined. DiCaprio's performance brings home the fear that the character must have constantly been feeling. If discovered, he would certainly be killed by Costello's mobsters in a way that would serve as an example. The film ends, I think, as it must, and it's fair to say it's a Noir ending and not a "Hollywood" ending. Over the weeks leading up to this year's Academy Awards this film will be praised more than the last 25 films nominated for "Best Picture" combined. All the praise and hoopla will make "The Departed" and it's various investors a lot of money. This makes me wonder - if great films like this are profitable, why bother with the other 99% of brainless dreck that shows up at my local cineplex every week? Just wondering.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bit different,
I am a of Scorsese and of some types of violent films. This film is so freaking amazing, I have been watching it probably twice year since it came out. So I saw a deal and got a copy. It's been several years now, but at the time it blew my mind. Everyone dies. That's a great twist for a mob movie. But that's just one detail. I think Jack does an amazing job. All the performances are a ten. Great symbolism, scenery (I love Boston), story, soundtrack. And long ago Mick sang, "all sinners saints, every cop a criminal." So the nature of the human to have both sides, the duality that is explored, makes it all the more interesting. Is Colin a product of his environment? Does he just owe Frank everything? Or is he really bad and will do anything to get ahead, whatever it is? We certainly don't see him torn and tormented like Billy is. The second disc has some great stuff.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brash, Bold, Complex--The New Scorsese May Not Be A Classic But It's Deliriously Entertaining,
Every time Martin Scorsese releases a new picture, the Oscar talk begins. Obviously, the world waits breathlessly for the next "Taxi Driver" or "Raging Bull" or "Goodfellas"--but it's not easy to craft a film of such enduring appeal. "The Aviator," his last Best Picture nominee, is a handsome biopic bolstered by good performances--but hardly elicits the same passion as the Scorsese classics. And "Gangs of New York," the nominee prior to that, is a genuinely muddled mess led by a terrific performance by Daniel Day Lewis. So that you may calibrate this review, I'm going to say it right now--in no way did "Gangs of New York" deserve to be among the top five films of it's year.
"The Departed" is this year's candidate, and I have no doubt it will receive many accolades from the Academy. It's a vastly entertaining tale based on Hong Kong's "Infernal Affairs." I don't know that I consider it to be among Scorsese's best work--but it certainly brings back a life and passion absent from some of his recent efforts. Brasher and more viscerally exciting than "The Aviator," more coherent and intelligent than "Gangs of New York"--"The Departed" does remind you of the pictures made on the mean streets of Scorsese's earlier classics. And while the film is abundantly entertaining, thrilling and twisty--it is not without flaws either.
First, the good. It's a terrific plot well executed--complicated and morally ambiguous. You can't help but be impressed with the layer upon layer of complexity as our characters live in worlds that are based on lies. How do you maintain the essence of yourself when you exist in a state of pretense? How to you survive and thrive when one mistake could mean your life? There are knotty ethical issues to be wrestled with throughout the picture--a lot more for the viewer to think about and contemplate than in your traditional action fare.
Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio give fully realized, dynamic performances. It may be a career high for both actors--I appreciated their immersion into these men. They are bold and challenging portraits of two people trapped within situations that now define them. Free choice is limited and you can't play by the rules. Ruthlessness and dishonesty become necessary to survive--their lives parallel beautifully even though they are at odds. Nice characterizations from Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen are highlights as well. Wahlberg, in particular, has rarely been so alive on the screen.
One element in the film that has been debated is Jack Nicholson's performance, however. Either you think it is a brilliant Jack Nicholson role or you wish for a little more restraint. Well, I almost always wish for some restraint with modern Nicholson (aside form the nice nuanced role in "About Schmidt")--but here, his over-the-top portrait actually serves the film well. I enjoyed his antics and it worked as a suitable counterpoint to the younger performers.
The one element of the film I really struggled with, however, is the female character. Played by Vera Farmiga--she is more of a plot convenience than a real asset to the film. Awkwardly and unbelievably positioned between Damon and DiCaprio, she does little to heighten the drama. It's a huge suspension of belief to put her into the middle of things--and with only an unnecessary romantic subplot to show for it, it just isn't worth it. It's not Farmiga's fault, but the film came to a screeching halt every time she entered into it (especially her absurd doctor/patient interactions with DiCaprio).
I definitely recommend "The Departed." Close to a great film, it's deliriously entertaining. KGHarris, 11/06.
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The Departed (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD) by Martin Scorsese (HD DVD - 2007)