The Departed (2006) Full Movie Review | Scorsese is a rare filmmaker. He will not only entertain you with his films, but also make you an active participant in them. The Departed, as his latest example, is among his best. From start to finish, you follow two moles attempting to find one another. A remake of the 2002 Chinese thriller, Infernal Affairs, Matt Damon plays a cop / mob mole searching for Leonardo DiCaprio’s hood / police mole who is working for the Irish mob out of Boston.
The Departed (2006) Review
In the process of telling us this story, Scorsese shows us that he is both a student and master of the art of filmmaking. The opening narrative feature’s Jack Nicholson’s entertaining Mob Boss’ movements throughout ‘the neighborhood’ entirely in shadow (in spite of the bright daylight), talking in particular to the young, Alter boy Damon character about God, pedophile Priests, and some choice words about other ethnic groups – appearing and tempting the young like the Devil himself (a role Jack has played with great relish before this) – only revealing himself to the audience when saying there was no “difference” between cops and crooks when a gun is involved, all put to the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”. This does not take into account the visceral visuals and use of old school tricks that Scorsese uses throughout the film to keep us involved. His camera is never passive, always active and moving, to the point that he even uses an iris shot to show Damon standing still, in awe of something only to widen out to reveal the police headquarters that he is about to enter for the first time.
The Departed is not just a triumph for Scorsese, however. The editing, sound, and camera work are all simpatico and succeed in compelling us to watch as the events unfold. This can be illustrated by the first warehouse sequence where we follow nearly every single character converging to one spot for the inevitable, violent, and tragic end and the later phone sequence where tension builds between the two leads without either saying a word, only listening to the other breath. Scorsese and his crew also make excellent use of music, grabbing the viewers’ attention to the scene by jumping suddenly into the middle of Van Morrison’s cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” to make it a love song (!) and just as quickly ending an opera piece to show how demented Nicholson’s Mob Boss is.
The best part of any Scorsese film, however, has always been the acting. The only actor to have worked with him before on this film is DiCaprio, who, along with Damon and Nicholson, create some of the best characters any of them has ever played. To fill this world out, Scorsese has also brought in an excellent supporting cast that includes his usual cast of ‘faces’ that fit Boston, smart cop Alec Baldwin, wise sage Martin Sheen, and the oddly-well cast Mark Wahlberg in a small, but vital role.
He uses those performances and specific locations that he creates emotional responses connected to the personalities of each character to engage us from beginning to end. Ultimately, this film will fit in with Scorsese’s own ‘Streets’ Trilogy (Mean Streets, GoodFellas, Casino) the way that Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West was to his ‘Man With No Name’ Trilogy (which fans of both may notice that Scorsese invokes imagery from Leone’s films in his own), A fourth installment in a series that inspires, entertains, and never gives an inch to lower the bar, rather raising it for the next guy to better himself. Act Accordingly.
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