The Departed

Most of the time, when a star-studded cast is assembled for a film (most commonly seen in typical animated movies coming out these days), there’s little room for excellence in the film. Martin Scorsese does the complete opposite with his new film, The Departed. The cast, consisting of big names Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen, fails to be anything but amazing.

Set in South Boston, the film is an intense and gritty look into an internal war between the Boston State Police Department and the Irish-American mafia focused around their rats (not the literal type).

Set up with Colin Sullivan (Damon) as a young boy being pulled into Frank Costello’s (Nicholson) world of organized crime, the film brings us into the present day, where we see Sullivan has been implanted into the Massachusetts Police Academy. Soon after, he’s put into the Boston State Police to keep Costello just ahead of the law. Not only has he just been implanted, but Sullivan is made Sergeant by Baldwin’s Ellerby.

On the other side of things, the State Police’s Captain Queenan (Sheen) and hard-nosed Dignum (Wahlberg) have taken troubled Billy Costigan, with a family history of criminal behavior, to go through the Academy and into Costello’s inner circle. Unknown to Costello, Sullivan is a rat (and vice versa).
The storyline, heavily inspired by the praised 2002 Hong Kong film Internal Affairs, seems like it could be a tad bit typical, but Scorsese makes this American gangster storyline completely his own.

The film is essentially as gritty as you can get. There’s intense violence, drugs and alcohol, racial epithets, sexuality, deception, and betrayal. Most of all, there’s the language. The film makes it seem as if almost everybody from South Boston uses the “f-word” in every other line. While all of this and what must go unsaid may disturb some, there’s no denying that all of this is downright entertaining. The dialogue carries the film greatly, throwing in incredibly well-timed humor and drama.
The characters themselves are the second greatest part of the film. There are no “nice guys” in here. If anybody is a nice guy, it’s Sheen’s Queenan, but even he gets involved with the chaos. Wahlberg and Baldwin provide much of the crude humor; Damon and DiCaprio set forth the intensity. Jack Nicholson, however, is the center of this film’s greatness. He’s disgusting, he’s lewd, and he’s unforgiving. How does he get away with this? Well, quite simply it’s for one reason: because he’s Jack Nicholson.

This is a wildly entertaining film. While it can move slightly slow at times and is a bit lengthy, it’s still very strong. With a stellar cast and one of the more interesting endings around (the final shot show is hilarious), The Departed is more than worth seeing. To go out on a limb, it’s up there with Scorsese’s best.