Scorsese not one of the "Departed"

Oct. 12, 2006, midnight | By Nitin Sukumar | 16 years, 1 month ago

Intense crime drama is Oscar-quality

Director Martin Scorsese ("The Aviator" and "Goodfellas") has never won an Oscar. But "The Departed" will surely give him a taste of the glory. Scorsese stirs up gangsters, cops and even some Irish spice to create one of the greatest crime dramas to date. The star-studded cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg mesh perfectly with the dark underworld of Boston and masterfully provides a bloody yet stunning show of loyalty, power and sacrifice.

Based on the Hong Kong hit "Infernal Affairs," "The Departed" (meaning "the dead") focuses on the efforts of the Massachusetts State Police Department's efforts to end mob leader Frank Costello's (Nicholson) hold over the streets of Boston.

Billy Costigan (DiCaprio), a fiery officer with a family history of mob activity, is employed by Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and the entertaining, foul-mouthed Sergeant Dignam (Wahlberg) to infiltrate Costello's operations. Costigan has a run-in with a few of Costello's cronies and catches Costello's attention.

Meanwhile, Colin Sullivan (Damon), Costello's protégé, goes undercover and moves up the ranks in the Special Investigations unit of the police department to help Costello avoid the law. Both Costigan and Sullivan realize that someone has infiltrated their respective organizations and the two race to find each other's identity first.

Scorsese keeps the ball rolling by revealing the many twists and turns of Sullivan and Costigan's respective jobs. Costigan's work overflows with brutal crime, while typical detective work highlights Sullivan's. The plot becomes increasingly more complex as revelations are made, but Scorsese manages to keep a clear picture with the help of his star actors.

Scorsese does confuse the audience with the strange love triangle between Costigan, Sullivan, and the police psychologist Madolyn (Vera Farmiga.) Sullivan and Costigan get more involved in their relationships with Madolyn and they unknowingly hold a connection through her. As neither man even acknowledges the other until far into the story, the romance serves almost no purpose; it dilutes the high-powered attitude of the film.

"The Departed" marks the third film which Scorsese features DiCaprio as his lead actor. DiCaprio incorporates heavy emotions to portray the double-sided Costigan. He acts as both a slightly crazed kid who wants to fix his family's criminal past and an actor posing as a vicious criminal.

No actor could have matched Nicholson's work as the gangster boss. As Costello becomes increasingly paranoid and crazed, Nicholson adapts accordingly with his well-appreciated sinister character. This film has been Damon's first as a villain, yet he manages to bring in the finer elements of his roles from movies like "The Bourne Identity" and "Ocean's Eleven" to create the perfect attitude for a two-faced thug. Wahlberg creates the most intriguing character in the witty, harsh Dignam. His acting highlights the show as the blunt figure whom both Costigan and Sullivan report to, often engaging in verbal or physical fights.

Scorsese masterfully films his story with hit-and-run clips: several short scenes with high adrenaline and gun points. To fit the attitude of the action flawlessly, "The Departed" falls back on its theme song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by Dropkick Murphys. The fast-paced rock song incorporates Irish bagpipes, blending in perfectly with the Boston street setting.

Without a doubt, "The Departed" has rejuvenated Scorsese's career. The movie's resulting success could lead the well-respected director to incorporate the talents of DiCaprio's costars in future films. A lesson of struggle and loyalty, in a violent environment, is brought to attention at full-blast. The gritty streets of Boston and the fierce war between crime lords and the police will be vividly remembered through "The Departed."

"The Departed" (149 minutes, area theaters) is rated R for brutal violence, pervasive language, strong sexual content and drug material.

Nitin Sukumar. Nitin's middle name is Antonio Gates. More »

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