The Departed

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The Departed
Review (8.5/10)
(By Erin Cullin)

Things are not always as they seem, particularly in a world where corruption, lies and betrayal rule the day. Nowhere is this more true than in the underworld of Boston's Irish mob, as masterfully depicted in Martin Scorsese's latest film, The Departed.

An adaptation of the critically-acclaimed Chinese film, Infernal Affairs,The Departed tells the story of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), two Boston law enforcement officers who find themselves charged with infiltrating the criminal enterprise of Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Working from opposite ends of the law, they meet their objectives, but when their superiors begin to suspect that there is a traitor in their midst, each must find a way to finish his assignment without losing his life. The movie is rounded out with excellent performances by Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin.

After unsuccessfully chasing Oscar glory with "epic" films such as Gangs of New York and The Aviator, Martin Scorsese has finally returned to the film genre in which he has truly been a success - the crime drama. It is difficult not to associate Scorsese with classic films such as Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas and Casino. While not his best work, The Departed is certainly Scorsese's best film in the past ten years, and one of the best films that I have seen this year.

This film ran in perfect harmony. The script was excellent - the story flowed well, was interesting and was not predictable. The ending of the movie was a complete surprise, to the point that I left the theatre feeling somewhat shellshocked. The performances of the actors were excellent. With one minor exception, every role was perfectly cast. Leonardo DiCaprio, who has been routinely criticized for having more style than substance since his star-making turn in Titanic, shows once and for all that he is an actor deserving of recognition. Mark Wahlberg, who in my view is underrated as an actor, also deserves praise for an outstanding performance.

The one minor criticism that I would make regards the casting of Jack Nicholson in the role of Frank Costello. Nicholson did a decent, if not predictable, job doing what he does best - playing the role of the villain with the wicked smile. In watching the film, however, I could not help but think that Daniel Day Lewis, who perfected the role of the diabolical mob boss in Gangs of New York, would have been the best choice to play Frank Costello. At the very least, he would have had an authentic Irish accent, and we would have been spared Jack's half-hearted attempts at one.

One warning. Although not gratuitously so, this movie is violent. It contains very strong language. There is some graphic sexual content. If any of these things make you blush, then this is not the movie for you.

I have no hesitation recommending The Departed. Although it will not win Scorsese that elusive Oscar (unless the Academy feels badly about overlooking him all of those other times that he actually should have won one), The Departed is easily one of the better films that you will see this year.

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