Saturday, 3 January 2015

The Departed (2006)

I share my thoughts on Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film, an award winning crime drama The Departed, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’ve only seen two Martin Scorsese films – Shutter Island and The Wolf of Wall Street (and loved them both). However, one of my goals that I set myself for this year was to watch more films from certain directors, and Scorsese was one of these – especially given that so far he seems to have a hundred per cent track record in my book. So when I was in London shortly after Christmas and this film happened to show up on the TV at my hotel, I didn’t pass it by, especially given that the cast involved looked pretty good. Yes, I’m not a fan of DiCaprio, but he is still capable of putting out some good performances from time to time and the addition of the likes of Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg makes The Departed very interesting indeed.

This is a crime drama, but don’t expect an all action blockbuster. Yes, guns are fired and there are a lot of shootouts, but it’s not as explosive as other films in the genre has given us. And yet, it manages to be incredibly intense and unpredictable despite this. You never know what’s going to happen next and anybody could die at any second. So the tension is most certainly there, especially in the final act, when everything hits the fan. However, despite this, the action of The Departed is not the main focus of the film. It is in fact, a character-focused, and fleshes out the various players involved in the drama incredibly well.

The Departed is set in Boston, and follows the respective lives of two moles in two different organizations. Mole #1 is Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) an undercover state cop sent inside the Irish Mafia, which is headed by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). However, Billy is unaware that there is a mole in the state police, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), doing everything that he can to find out who the mole inside the Mafia is just as quickly as Billy is trying to find out who is the mole inside the state police. It’s a cat and mouse game of the best kind, and with some superb performances from pretty much everybody involved – Damon gives one of his best performances in his caree, The Departed as a result is incredibly captivating.

With a soundtrack including The Rolling Stones (Gimme Shelter) and Badfinger (Baby Blue), and even some work from Lord of the Rings composer Howard Shore, the film has some great stuff going for it. With Scorsese at the helm the film is superbly directed, and although there are a few minor problems – for one, it could have been shortened by cutting out the dull love triangle involving Vera Farmiga’s character Madolyn, but on the whole, it remains a great film, and certainly my favourite film from 2006 that I’ve seen. (Sorry, Casino Royale – and no, I haven’t seen The Prestige or Pan’s Labyrinth yet).

The narrative itself is complex and masterful. The interweaving plots are pulled off incredibly well, and the atmosphere is fantastic. The film has an old fashioned feel as opposed to some of the newer crime movies, and it looks great as a result of this. There are plenty of nice surprises – which I won’t spoil - and the ending itself left me wondering “did that really just happen?” until after the credits rolled.

If you’re a fan of crime films and or Martin Scorsese, and you haven’t yet seen The Departed, I strongly recommend that you check it out as soon as you can. It features a terrific cast and a superb character driven story that gets the best of out of the actors involved. Highly Recommended!


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