By Sean Gardner
Directed by Martin Scorsese, The Departed is an American remake of of the Asian film, Infernal Affairs. In this crime drama masterpiece, Scorsese takes us deep into the underbelly of the Irish mafia in Boston.
The film begins with what could’ve been a deleted scene from Goodfellas. Crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) uses comic books and a handful of loose change to recruit a young Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) into the ranks of his organization. As an adult, Sullivan, still attached to Costello, joins the Massachusetts State Police. Alongside Sullivan is Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), also a state trooper who come from an underprivileged background in the projects. Sullivan is used by Costello to infiltrate the state police and Costigan is used by the state police as an undercover agent to infiltrate Costello’s organization.
Highly influenced by Chinese cinema, it was fitting that Scorsese would take on the task of remaking one of its best films ever. He treats the original story with respect, but makes it distinctly Scorsesean. The fact that he set it with the Irish mafia in Boston rather than the typical Italian mafia in New York makes it completely unique. And kudos to the dialect coach Tim Monich who got everyone to to nail the south Boston accent, which in my opinion is the hardest to imitate.
Nicholson and Scorsese worked so well together in this film that I am amazed that they hadn’t done it before or since. Nicholson fits right in to the modern neo-noir crime style that Scorsese has all but perfected. Damon and DiCaprio knock it out of the park as well. But the best performance in my opinion was from Mark Wahlberg. His performance got him his first Oscar nomination, and the only acting nomination from The Departed. It proved that he was more than an action/comedy guy he had been to that point.
The only problem I had with this film was that the ending was a little too ambiguous. I like films with ambiguous endings when it encourages the creative interpretation of the viewer. However, I feel like that type of an ending was not needed in this particular film. The final scene felt tack on and oddly out of place.
But, that’s just me nitpicking to be honest. This film is fantastic. It is masterfully directed. The story is deeply engaging and suspenseful. The performances are off the charts good. I highly recommend it.