The Departed

The fact that The Departed is directed by Martin Scorsese speaks for itself. Clearly, you have stumbled upon an excellent movie living up to the expectations one has when you go to see a Scorsese movie. Starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg, this one is a remake of the famous Hong Kong thriller series Internal Affairs.

As far as the plot goes, the movie has pace and keeps you on your toes. You never know what is next, unless you have watched Internal Affairs. The film is set in Boston, Massachusetts, and largely revolves the two troopers Billy Costigan and Colin Sulllivan played by Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon respectively. Whereas the former is the undercover cop tracking the notorious mobster Frank Costello played superbly by Jack Nicholson, the latter is the stylish informant within the state police who keeps on saving Costello. I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that one should learn how to direct an adapted screenplay by Scorsese, as even though the film is a remake it clearly has the Scorsese stamp on it. The characters are etched well and each actor has a terrific screen presence.

If you sympathize with Di Caprio for being stuck as an undercover who is fighting for his identity, is pitted against the biggest mafia and is struggling to keep sane with valium, you are simply amazed by Jack Nicholson! Now this man is indeed one of the finest living actors. If he made you flinch by the legendary dialogue, “You can’t handle the truth” in A Few Good Men then his performance in The Departed will simply enthrall you. Although there are quite a few memorable quotes in the movie, some of them are especially unique. Sample this one by Frank (Jack Nicholson), “When I was growing up, they would say you could become cops or criminals. But what I’m saying is this. When you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?” Coming to Matt Damon, this actor is not one of the most bankable stars and my favorite actor for nothing. And what is better is that he lives up to it completely. He pulls off the arrogant “fancy policeman” look fantastically. His honest portrayal as a man who fears being discovered as Costello’s rat and as a cold blooded, yet scared, man is convincing.

An actor who deserves special credit is Mark Wahlberg as Sergeant Dignum who was nominated for an Academy Award for this role. This is one character you hate to love! His short temper, abusive and sarcastic one liners though hilarious sometimes, are hard hitting. He provides great leverage to the script. The thing with this character is that you know that when he enters the scene there is going to be no beating around the bush and what you are going to have is pure action. When Dignum is asked by someone who he is, he replies, “I’m the guy who does his job. You must be the other guy.” And yes in this script, Mark Wahlberg is the man who does his job up to the climax!

Worth mentioning here is the tribute the movie pays to Scarface with “X” scattered throughout the movie over characters that are destined to die. So, if for nothing else, see the movie to spot the Xs. You will have fun doing that. Actually, I should admit that this is one movie whose ending had both, the surprise element and the pace! I actually shouted out, “What just happened?” when I saw the movie. The ensemble cast carries the movie on its shoulders. However, it is not a movie for the faint hearted as it is rated R for use of language. But miss the movie and you would be missing a Scorsese masterpiece.

This movie comes in a large package as far as the movie length is concerned. As reported, Andrew Lau, the co-director of Infernal Affairs, who was interviewed by Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, said, “Of course I think the version I made is better, but the Hollywood version is pretty good too. [Scorsese] made the Hollywood version more attuned to American culture.” Andy Lau, one of the main actors in Infernal Affairs, when asked how the movie compares to the original, said, “The Departed was too long and it felt as if Hollywood had combined all three Infernal Affairs movies together.” Lau pointed out that the remake featured some of the “golden quotes” of the original but did have much more swearing. He ultimately rated The Departed eight out of ten and said that the Hollywood remake was worth a view, though “the effect of combining the two female characters in the original into one isn’t as good as in the original.”

Another small loophole would be the performance by Vera Farmiga as Dr. Madolyn, who is Sullivan’s girlfriend and is a psychiatrist to Costigan. This character is actually played by two women in Internal Affairs and I was not really amazed by the performance. I guess the wit of Costigan and Sullivan beats the character. However, she is not that hopeless, as the last confrontation scene between her and Sullivan is very moving.

Now, this movie works for me and is definitely on my list of favorites. If the reasons I have mentioned earlier are not convincing enough to pick up a DVD, I still insist upon seeing the movie for a scene in which we have an Indian character “Singh” who is cornered by these gangsters and is shocked by their brutality! This scene is hilarious to the core!

Aayushi Uberoi

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