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.
on February 18, 2007
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.
on December 17, 2006
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.
on October 11, 2006
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.
on 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.
on December 29, 2015
Please don't make negative comments like some of the aforementioned people have been doing if you haven't seen the film yet! I have seen it, at a press screening last week. Not only is it the best film of the year so far, it marks a return to form for Martin Scorsese, and ranks with the likes of GOODFELLAS as being one of the best in his canon of films.
I'm a fan of the Hong Kong film, INFERNAL AFFAIRS, upon which this is based. While THE DEPARTED keeps the basic structure of the original, it is very much its own movie, so much so that the screenwriter, William Monahan, didn't even watch the original film while adapting its screenplay, thus enabling him to infuse the script with his, and Scorsese's, respective visions.
All the actors are first-rate (yes, even Leo, for all you DiCaprio bashers out there), and turn in some of their best performances to date. THE DEPARTED is sure to garner a host of Oscar nods, if not wins, including (hopefully) Scorsese's long-overdue statuette for Best Director. Plus, with actors like Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin playing supporting roles, that says a lot about the quality of the film they signed up for! THE DEPARTED is tough stuff, not for the faint-of-heart. That said, it is a must-see for adult viewers who long for intelligent, gritty stories to grace our movie screens once again.
on January 5, 2016
Watched one my favorite films thats The Departed one of my favorite Crime Dramas Films Featured an Amazing Performance from a Stellar Lead by Oscar Nominee Leonardo DiCaprio(Blood Diamond) as Billy Costigan , Also Featuring Matt Damon(Good Will Hunting) as Colin Sullivan, Mark Wahlberg(The Italian Job) as Sean Dingnam,Martin Sheen(Apocalypse Now) as Oliver Queenan,Ray Winstone (Cold Mountain) as Mr. French,Alec Baldwin(30 Rock) as George Ellerbu Also Featuring Ukranian Beauty Vera Farmiga(The Manchurian Candidate) as Madolyn Madden also Starring The Great Jack Nicholson(The Shining) as Frank Costello. The film is filled with twist and turns also is suspenseful also it is intriguing its not your typical crime drama which makes it great also Amazing Performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson, Amazing Screenplay by William Monahon(Kingdom Of Heaven), Costume Designs By Sandy Powell(Shakespeare In Love) and Direction By Martin Scorsese(Goodfellas) Defenitley This Is His Best Work 9/10
on August 9, 2015
Most movies with this many stars in it usually fall flat, but this one works. There were a few shocking moments and it never became slow. I felt satisfied with the ending as well. A movie worth watching.
on April 8, 2014
He has made good musicals (New York, New York), surreal comedies (After Hours), satires (The King of Comedy) and biopics (The Aviator), but Martin Scorsese has never done better than the times he's dealt with life on the streets and gangsters. Mean Streets, Goodfellas and Casino (and, to some degree, Taxi Driver) are proof of that. It doesn't seem strange, then, that his finest film in over a decade (Goodfellas was released in 1990) sees him return to that familiar ground. With a few changes.
The Departed, based on Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs (2002), is Scorsese's first gangster film not to feature Italian-American criminals. In fact, this film is set in Boston, where the Irish rule. One of these "godfathers" is Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), the man the State Police want the most. After years of investigation, they're finally getting close, thanks to undercover agent Billy Costigan (Leonardo Di Caprio). Because of his family (all Irish, all bad), becoming a member of Costello's crew isn't that difficult. Now all Costigan has to do is report to his superiors, Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), who will pass on the information to Ellerby's (Alec Baldwin) Special Investigations Unit. What they don't know is that Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), the most promising element of said unit, has been on Costello's payroll since he was 12. Soon enough, both cops and crooks become aware of the situation, beginning a manhunt that's gonna make the already fragile Billy even more nervous and Costello increasingly crazier.
By moving from Hong Kong to Boston, Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan have made the first step in ensuring this film will be quite different from its Chinese inspiration. Another significant factor is the running time: a mere 97 minutes for Infernal Affairs, 150 for The Departed. This is due to new characters (Dignam and Costello's henchman Mr French, played by Ray Winstone, were missing in the original) and subplots, such as the one concerning Madolyn (Vera Farmiga), a psychiatrist who gets emotionally involved with both of the moles. But the most crucial difference is in the depiction of the underworld: whereas IA was stylish without being excessive, Scorsese's vision comprises very colorful language (some insults are so creative one might expect Joe Pesci to show up) and, of course, buckets of blood, the last part of the movie proving to be particularly shocking. None of the scenes ever reach the gross-out level of Casino's head-in-the-vice scene, but in pure Scorsese tradition it remains unflinchingly violent (also notable is the music, perfectly setting the mood, scene after scene, alongside Thelma Schoonmaker's impeccable editing).
Amidst these brutal surroundings, the director handles a spot-on cast: Baldwin, Sheen and Wahlberg (the latter finally back on form) make good use of their little screen time, Damon fine-tunes the edgier side he showed in The Talented Mr Ripley and the Bourne movies, and Nicholson, playing the villain again at last, delivers another OTT but classy turn (original choice Robert De Niro would probably have played the part with more calm and subtlety). A special mention is needed for Di Caprio: working with Scorsese for the third consecutive time, he has finally found a way to shake off his Titanic image, thanks to a vulnerable, gripping (and arguably career-best) performance.
With its clever plot, excellent acting and expert direction, The Departed is without doubt the year's best film so far. If this really is going to be his last gangster film (he has said so), as well as his last studio-endorsed picture, Scorsese can be proud, given the masterpiece he has given us.
on February 13, 2014
I expected more from the DVD than I got with this one. The overall transfer is uneven and in some places picture quality suffers. In retrospect I should have gotten the BluRay. Or, the studio should have engineered a better transfer. Still, a great movie that deserves better quality. Everything has already been said about the cast. But, Mark Wahlberg shines around some heavyweights. And while I'm not a big Leonardo fan, he is great in this movie. So buy the BluRay and enjoy...