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166 of 224 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not A Departure For Scorsese, October 18, 2006
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.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 12, 2007 2:45:00 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 12, 2007 2:45:36 PM PDT
Pretty good review, but the police force that Costigan, Sullivan, Queenam, et. al work for is the Mass. State Police, not Boston Police. The Amazon.com review made the same mistake. Other than that, you eloquently state what I think about the movie.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 9, 2007 1:27:21 PM PDT
Scorsese remade the Chinese movie Infernal Affairs. Not very original.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 5, 2009 7:35:14 PM PDT
I think translate is a better word but that doesn't deter from the excellent screenplay that William Monahan conceived. I happened to like "Infernal Affairs" also but still this is a great film.

In reply to an earlier post on May 22, 2010 10:35:16 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 22, 2010 10:35:49 PM PDT
T. Ching says:
@Walter DIss Nay
maybe but it's a whole lot better. honestly.
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