The Departed (2006)


“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream,” and they both end up getting shot.

Wrong movie, but given the fact that there are two rats in this one, it seems appropriate.

The Departed is a film I’ve seen numerous times.  It has been quite some time since I saw it last, and I have to say I still remember a lot of the memorable lines, and it still surprises me with the way this one turns out.  Martin Scorsese thinks way outside the box, and while it seems like he mostly does crime-related films, he’s good at it, so he’s sticking with his strength as a filmmaker.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon both give outstanding performances in this movie.  I almost get the sense that it was at this point that people started taking DiCaprio more seriously as an adult-type actor as compared to his roles in Romeo + JulietTitanic, and to a lesser extent Catch Me If You Can.  These guys are both convincing in taking on the roles that are opposite from their character’s nature.  Jack Nicholson does a good job in the role he’s given, and Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin deliver many of the memorable lines.

Scorsese uses a lot of throwbacks and references to old crime movies.  Whenever a person is about to die, there is an “X” in some form: the X on the truck right before Sullivan (Damon) stabs the restaurant worker, as Queenan (Martin Sheen) is thrown out the window, when Sullivan shoots Costello (Nicholson), and the Xs on the floor in Sullivan’s apartment hallway at the end of the film.  Another one was with the red lens filter as Costello was at the opera.

Something I’ve always thought was interesting is how the opening title doesn’t appear for the first 20 minutes or so.  Scorsese is also very good as keeping the audience on their toes.  The first time I saw this movie in the theater, I remember thinking at the very end, “Oh my gosh what in the world just happened?”  Part of me was thinking, “no way did that just happen, it isn’t possible.”  I’m talking about the final elevator scene.

When you look at the other films up for Best Picture, it’s one of those times where one rises far and away above the rest.  I have nothing against Babel, Little Miss Sunshine, The Queen, and Letters from Iwo Jima, but to me it seemed like The Departed was in a class all its own.  For the record I’ve seen all those films except The Queen, in fact I’ve reviewed Letters for this project:

I noticed something this time in the scene where Costello and Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) are discussing the rat in the organization.  I never saw that Costello was drawing rats on his piece of paper.

Overall The Departed is an engaging, entertaining film.  It does go way over the top on violence and language, but given the circumstances, setting, and type of movie this is, that can be expected.  I can enjoy this one still today in moderation, and it’s essential for any Scorsese fan.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.


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