The Departed is a 2006 crime film directed by the legendary Martin Scorsese. A remake of the 2002 film Internal Affairs, The Departed tells the story of 2 men, both on opposite sides of the law, acting against their true nature in order to help out their superiors. These characters are played by Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio. Supporting those two are Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin and Vera Farmiga.
Set in present day Boston, the film begins with Colin Sullivan (Damon) and Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) graduating from the police academy. Damon is congratulated by Mob boss Frank Costello (Nicholson), and quickly moves his way up in the State Police. Costigan is questioned by the police Captain (Sheen) and his Staff Sergeant (Wahlberg), and is convinced to join up with Costello’s crew, in order to be a rat for the police. Sullivan ends up helping Costello by being a mole inside the police force, even while continually improving his position within it, Both men end up facing temptations from either side of the law, all while being as cautious as possible, as being found out would likely lead to severe persecution, or even death.
The Departed is a film that requires you to pay close attention while it runs. It doesn’t make it easy on you, having many different characters that are all richly developed. Damon, DiCaprio and Nicholson all play their roles great, and Wahlberg ends up stealing the scene every time he appears. Being the most profanity riddled character in the film, Sergeant Dignam ends up playing a comic relief role, always speaking his mind. This is passed off in the film as him just “acting his own way”, and what results is a hilarious performance, which is captivating for the short time he appears on screen. The rest of the supporting cast plays their roles appropriately, although they are greatly overshadowed by the main characters.
The acting isn’t the only thing that works in The Departed. In fact, pretty much everything works well. The film is gorgeous, being shot masterfully, and always allowing you to see what is going on. Any mystery that the shots do give is intentional, to allow for the audience to not get bored. The story certainly doesn’t allow for times of boredom. Although the story is fairly straight forward, it is told in such a way that it keeps the interest of the viewers. The details really matter in The Departed, and it shows it. After watching the film more than once, (and you will want to watch it again), you will notice details you didn’t see the first time. After already finding everything out the first time, you can begin seeing how brilliant the film really is.
One main criticism that I can muster up against The Departed is the fact that while it is a tense film, the two leads never really seem to be in a whole lot of danger. The actors play the roles with a slight bit of fear, as they should, but it doesn’t always seem appropriate. Sure, if one gets found out, heads will roll, but for the first two-thirds of the film, this really doesn’t come close to happening. The final third is definitely the best part of the film, and will not allow you to turn way in disgust, even though you may want to. The tension rises along with the body count, and the finale ends up being both shocking and exhilarating. The ending does seem to come about fairly quick, but when you think about it, the abrupt finish fits well into the film.
The Departed is a superb film, I can’t argue that. It’s got great acting, is well paced, expertly shot and never boring to watch. The characters are all interesting and developed, with Mark Wahlberg stealing the show in a more comical role. Morals are questioned, choices are made, and the end result is pure brilliance. It likely could have more tension, as the two main characters seem to avoid truly dangerous situations. Regardless, The Departed is a film that requires watching. It’s an intelligent thriller that will leave your heart pounding. You’ll end up caring for the well developed characters, despite ending up disliking yourself for doing so.