The Departed -- A Cat-And-Mouse Game

                              "When I was your age, they would say we could become cops or criminals. What I'm saying to you is this: When you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?"
--Jack Nicholson, "The Departed"

                                  The Departed is a perfect example of why remakes shouldn't be dismissed and how remakes should be made. Director Martin Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan have taken the story of Hong Kong crime flick Infernal Affairs. The original film was gritty and entertaining; the remake is a masterpiece and one of Scorsese's best film. The freshness comes from the details and exploration of character depths rarely found in crime dramas. In this movie, each character can't completely trust anyone else.

    "I don't want to be a product of my environment -- I want my environment to be a product of me." So says Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), the satanic South Boston mobster. Narrating the film's opening passages against a backdrop of news footage of the 1974 violence, Costello lays out his version of ethnic politics: ``That's what the black chappies never realized. No one gives it to you. You have to take it."

                       Frank Costello(Jack Nicholson) is a ruthless Boston Gangster who decides to send an undercover agent, Colin Sullivan(Matt Damon) in the Police Department. Simultaneously Senior Police Officers, Oliver Queenan(Martin Sheen) and Dignam(Mark Wahlberg) decide to send their own rookie officer, William Costigan(Leonardo DiCaprio) as a spy in Sullivan’s gang. 

             While reporting to their actual bosses about the day to day activities, a time comes when both sides suspect a mole in their gang and it all comes down to Colin who has to find out who is the mole in the Police Department and William who has to find the mole in Sullivan’s gang. Thus begins a high-stakes game, causing a myriad of complications in a crazy mixed up world that blurs the lines between the good guys and the bad.

              On-screen talent pools don't get much deeper than this one, with A-list actors like Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin accepting supporting roles. The heart of the film, however, concerns the blighted lives and choices of the two co-protagonists played by Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Damon. This is one of DiCaprio's best work, and he makes you feel the suicidal craziness of ``having to be a different guy every day." Damon's playing a more multi-leveled game, and under that mashed pretty-boy face we glimpse a whole spectrum of emotion: greed, ambition, cowardice, and a pathetic sort of loyalty.

                         Only few actors can add more color to a bad guy than Nicholson, and he relishes every moment in front of the camera. He avoids going over-the-top, and this makes Costello as frightening as he is magnetic. As Madeleine, a woman caught between Costigan and Sullivan, Vera Farmiga also has a significant role. Wahlberg almost steals the film -- every time he shows up you might start grinning. 

                      Thematically, The Departed fits well with the director's body of work. Mr. Scorsese has shown in The Departed, an ability to integrate his explosive acting set pieces with a seamlessly flowing narrative. Scorsese's movie is very American: It's more violent, though the violence certainly fits with the rest of the story. Some killings in Infernal Affairs are almost dreamlike, but the murders in The Departed spatter us with blood. It's a message from the director: Violence is real and has consequences. 

                       Two technical hallmarks of Scorsese's films are in evidence. Michael Ballhaus cinematography is intense and moody. Howard Shore provides the score, but the most notable aspect of the soundtrack is the near-perfect song selection. And, the biggest surprise was the depth and quality of the screenplay, especially showcasing its intelligence and humorous edge during Dignam's confrontational interviews. it's by far the best work that William Monahan(Kingdom of Heaven) has ever done!  I hesitate to mention anything about the ending at this particular time. It is a severe mind trip in every way.  

                    The merging of acting, writing, directing, and production is a pleasure to behold on all levels. With a stellar cast, Martin Scorsese proves that he’s the master of urban storytelling — and of thrillingly violent film-making.


The Departed - Imdb
Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, sexual content and drug material.


Akshy said...

Superb movie:).

umashankar said...

"When I was your age, they would say we could become cops or criminals. What I'm saying to you is this: When you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?"

You set the mood to this review, and also to the understanding of the movie, with that quote. I am marking this work of Mr Monhan for a must watch. Great, as usual.

Arun Kumar said...

@Akshy, Thank you.

@umashankar, Thanks for your comment. It is one of my favorite movie dialogues.

Mak said...

Your way of depicting a movie makes it more interestig Arun. As usual i skipped 'plot' section. In my watch list now. Thank you sir.

Anonymous said...

As usual Amazing Review :)

Arun Kumar said...

@Mak, Thanks for your comment. Give ur opinion after watching the movie.

@theaterbalcony, Thanks for the comment.

Tanny said...

“One of us had to die. With me, it tends to be the other guy..... the sheer spirit of this brilliantly directed movie with an infallible star cast. This is definitely an intelligently reviewed movie, crisp and engaging.