Reviews & Previews - The Departed

Posted on Tuesday, October 17, 2006 at 06:00 PM

The Departed

By: S. Tran

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Running Time: 152 minutes
Rated: Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material.

Not D.O.A.

Earlier this year Miami Vice came out trying to give us a glimpse into the gritty undercover lives of cops and the bad guys they are trying to catch. While the movie looked good, ultimately it failed because of an emphasis on style over substance. It was handicapped by a weak script and a lack of authenticity despite the attempt to make it look gritty by greasing up Colin Farrell's hair.

The Departed shows how a great director like Scorsese can give a film street cred by creating an experience so good you actually believe that the events unfolding on screen are representative of what it would be like to be a cop in Boston. Miami Vice is a pale imitation compared to this raw look into the lives of some very flawed, funny and dangerous characters. Helped by a nice script with good plotting and a narrative that maintains its momentum, the movie?s 152 minute running time is filled with action, great acting and drama with only a couple of short scenes that felt like "filler". Each shot, movement and action served a purpose and the movie reinforced Scorcese's reputation as one of the best directors in the game.

In this remake of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, both the good guys and the bad guys try to stay ahead of each other by planting a mole in each other's organizations. DiCaprio is the brave but reluctant police officer who takes on the job of infiltrating Nicholson's gang to try and bring him down. His counterpart is Damon who, despite his association with Nicholson, is able to become a police officer and rises through the ranks eventually joining the special group trying to get Nicholson. Throughout the film each of the men does his best to root the other out while keeping his own secret. Orbiting these two characters are Nicholson as the dangerously charming crime boss who enjoys his status as a big fish in the small crime pond and the blue collar detectives trying to take him down.

The performances in the film are excellent and in fact Dicaprio and Damon, as good as they are, were not the strongest members of the cast. Nicholson does some of his best work in years as the crime lord Costello, a leering, swaggering sociopath. Alec Baldwin is also very good as Damon's gruff superior, bringing his trademark delivery and growl. A nice surprise though was Mark Walhberg who shows off some serious acting chops and makes us forget his Funky Bunch days. Together the cast interact with each other seamlessly, jumping into their roles with abandon and giving the dialogue the edge it was written with. The language here is raw and coarse and absolutely authentic.

This is not a film where you are rooting for anyone in particular, not because the characters aren't sympathetic but because its not that kind of film. We may not care for some of the characters but because they are so interesting we do care what happens to them. To me this is the mark of a really good movie, when you don?t need to have that clear line in the sand in order to want to stay until the end.

The only thing that prevents this movie from being complete is the ending. Like a lot of good films it suffers from an ending that is not nearly as smart as the rest of the movie. This is a shame because the film builds our expectations so high that when it offers us a non-sensical ending the let down is even greater. Despite this, the movie is an enjoyable experience and the first 140 minutes makes up for the last 12.


4 out of 5 stars.


NOTE: The showtimes listed on come directly from the theatres' announced schedules, which are distributed to us on a weekly basis. All showtimes are subject to change without notice or recourse to