Friday, July 1, 2011
(September 2006, U.S.)
THE DEPARTED is a great fucking movie and I'm really glad that director Martin Scorsese finally got his just dues when it won the Oscar for best picture of 2006. But in a very small way, it's infuriating, because when compared to some of his earlier (and better) films that probably should have won that same award back in the day, like TAXI DRIVER (1976), RAGING BULL (1980) and GOODFELLAS (1990), you just can't believe it took this damn long for a crime thriller that's actually a remake of a 2002 Chinese film called INFERNAL AFFAIRS. I actually didn't know that at the time I saw Scorsese's film.
So where can I begin? You know that when you're about to watch a film that'll combine the talents of Scorsese and Jack Nicholson, you're in for a real cinematic treat. Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg don't exactly hurt the film, either. At a young age, Colin Sullivan (played by Damon) is introduced to organized crime through Irish mobster Frank Costello (played by Nicholson) in the Irish neighborhood of South Boston. Costello trains him to become his mole inside the Massachusetts State Police and succeeds beautifully. But at the same time, the same thing is happening on the opposite side of the coin when Billy Costigan (played by DiCaprio) is asked by Captain Oliver Queenan (played by Martin Sheen) and Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam (played by Wahlberg) to become an Undercover Agent, as his childhood and family ties to organized crime make him a perfect infiltrator. He drops out of the Academy and does time in prison on a fake assault charge to increase his credibility (following all of this so far?). Deep infiltration is taking place at both ends as both moles struggle to not only maintain their position and credibility, but their sanity, as well. As you watch and follow along step-by-step, you can't help but wonder who's going to fall first. I say "fall" because even in the smallest victories on either side, you can't help but feel that they're both going to come crashing down in the end. You're not wrong. You've heard the silly expression, "They all die at the end." Well, you figure it out.
Any character of a gangster played by Jack Nicholson is, well...he's Jack "fucking" Nicholson, for Christ sakes! In this role, he's giving us his most menacing (and most fun) performance since The Joker in Tim Burton's BATMAN (1989). Over the years, Leo seems to have become Scorsese's new "DeNiro" and he doesn't fail to disappoint as a man on the verge of madness all in the name of law and justice. Two things about the film did not sit quite right with me, though. They're very small, but I'll mention them nonetheless. The first is the silly element of symobolism when a rat runs across the balcony railing at the end. Yes, we know the whole premise of the film has been about rats in the organization, but no need to get silly about it. The second is that if you're going to use a song by Pink Floyd (my favorite rock band in the whole world!), please don't, don't, don't use somebody else's cover version! Bad idea. Very bad.
THE DEPARTED won the Oscar for best picture of 2006.
Favorite line or dialogue:
Frank Costello: "When you decide to be something, you can be it. That's what they don't tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I'm saying to you is this: when you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?"