The Departed

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The Departed
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

"The Departed" is a movie that many people may see as a return to greatness for Martin Scorcese after years of rattling off some Oscar-worthy movies like "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator" but movies that were nothing near his masterpieces such as "Taxi Driver", "Cape Fear", "Goodfellas", "Casino" and Michael Jackson's "Bad" video. I have to tell you, I was never crazy about "Gangs of New York" or "The Aviator". I've always said that Daniel Day Lewis was robbed of an Oscar for his performance as Bill The Butcher but the movie itself was a bit of a disappointment. Nevertheless, I have no problem saying that "The Departed" is a return to form for Martin Scorcese, if in fact I, as a poor, humble movie reviewer, am allowed to make such an arrogant statement. It may not be in the same league as a "Goodfellas" which is a top five all-time gangster movie, but it should make many top ten lists for 2006 and perhaps even the prestigious Empire Movies top ten list for 2006. But we'll have to wait and see about that.

The Departed is a movie that is somewhere between a cop movie, a gangster movie and a love story. In the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a newly graduated police officer who goes undercover to bring down a crime boss played by Jack Nicholson. Only two police officials (played by Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen) know of DiCaprio's extremely secretive investigation. Matt Damon heads a separate task force in the same department that is also after Nicholson. Damon's direct report is Alec Baldwin and neither Damon nor Baldwin are even aware that DiCaprio exists. So basically, DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlberg, Sheen and Baldwin are all going after Nicholson and somewhere in this cat and mouse game there exists a rat who is feeding Nicholson with information and ruining any chance of him going to jail. Worst of all, with a rat in the department, DiCaprio's life is in grave danger. "The Departed" also stars Anthony Anderson (who many of you might remember as Antwon Mitchell from "The Shield" or the really fat kid from "Hang Time") and also the guy who played "Chase" on 24.

"The Departed", for the most part, is a very good movie that keeps the audience on the edge of its seat, as we try to figure out what is waiting around the corner for DiCaprio, Damon, Nicholson and the rest of the crew. For people who enjoy that sort of thing, there are plenty of bullets flying, fists to faces, bottles to heads, broken bones and they even throw in a severed hand. There's a love triangle between Damon, DiCaprio and a lovely psychiatrist. Jack Nicholson give an over-the-top performance that lies somewhere between Colonel Nathan Jessup from "A Few Good Men" and The Joker from "Batman". Sometimes it was a bit too much, but that's Jack for ya. The rest of the cast is solid. They may not leave the impression that Jack leaves but they still hold their own.

I guess, in the end, my main problem with "The Departed" would be twofold - I found the ending deteriorated into something one would expect from a Quentin Tarantino movie and, not that that's a bad thing for a Tarantino movie, but for a Scorcese movie it seemed oddly out of place and almost comical. I would say that it did catch me totally off-guard so I probably shouldn't be complaining too much. Secondly, there's a whole reveal at the end of the movie that has to do with a certain "informant" in the movie that I'm not so sure I quite understood. I just don't think it was thoroughly explained.

Nevertheless, "The Departed" is a movie that I have no problem recommending. It is not one of the great all-time gangster movies. It is not one of the great Martin Scorcese movies. But it is one of the better movies I have seen in 2006 and definitely worth the trip down to your local cinema.

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