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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Departed

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Judy Thorburn

The Departed

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"THE DEPARTED" SCORSESE SCORES BIG IN HIS RETURN TO THE MEAN STREETS

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

There are a few directors that audiences can always depend on to deliver a powerful piece of cinema. Martin Scorsese is one of them. At worst he is controversial (Last Temptation of Christ) but never is he not a master filmmaker and his list of Oscar nominated films are proof of that. Yet, Scorsese is at his best when at the helm of mobster related flicks like Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, and Casino. Once again he returns to that genre with The Departed, a remake of Infernal Affairs, a 2002 thriller from Hong Kong. However, this time Scorsese’s setting is not his usual New York (Goodfellas, Gangs of New York) or Las Vegas location (Casino) but the mob controlled, mean streets of Boston.

How good is William Monahan’s script of The Departed? Well, there wasn’t a moment of the 150 minutes that I was bored or not centered on what was taking place on the screen. The Departed offers a stellar cast and perfect pacing within an engrossing, intricate tale involving lies and deceit that springs plenty of surprises you never saw coming. It’s not a perfect film. There are a few flaws I will get into later. But as a whole, I pretty much expect The Departed to be in the running for numerous awards come Oscar time, if the academy voters have their head screwed on right.

Counting Gangs of New York and The Aviator, this makes the third time Scorsese has collaborated with Leonardo Di Caprio. Scorsese always works his magic with actors and here he gets Di Caprio to deliver his best work yet in a story that digs deep into the machinations of police work and an Irish mob boss played with maniacal ruthlessness by the one and only Jack Nicholson.

In the ongoing war between cops and criminals, two cops on the opposite sides of the law are the central focus. Matt Damon is Colin Sullivan, the inside man for Irish crime boss Frank Costello (Nicholson) who took Sullivan under his wing as a teen and paved the way for Colin’s infiltration into the Massachusetts Police Department. Before you know it, Sullivan has moved up to detective in the Special Investigations unit run by Capt. Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) whose number one mission for his team is to get the notorious Costello.

On the other side of the coin is Billy Costigan (DiCaprio), a young man from a family filled with criminals, but who hopes to make a difference by joining the police. Billy is a good guy whose motives and loyalty are questioned in his quest for a spot on the force, considering his family history. After a grueling interrogation by Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen) and his right hand man, foul mouthed, in your face Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) who head up undercover operations of the Special Investigations Unit, Billy is recruited and agrees to go undercover to penetrate Costello’s ring in order to get information and enough evidence to get a conviction. To gain credibility as one of the bad guys, a scenario is played out where Billy is kicked off the force, and after a fake bust, sent to jail. Upon release from prison it doesn’t take too long before the wheels turn in the proper direction and he meets up with Costello’s henchman, Mr. French (British actor, Ray Winstone), the perfect “in” to Costello’s world.

So what we have here are two cops, each working on the same case, but pretending to be something they are not in their secret role as a snitch for opposite factions. Billy is a tortured character, struggling to keep it together as he is fearful of losing his identity and worse, his life, knowing that Frank would kill him in blink of an eye, if his cover were blown. Colin, however, is loyal to Frank, his father figure, to whom he keeps informed of every move in the ongoing investigation to take him down.

At first, neither moles have any clue to the other’s existence until a series of events reveals that there must be a spy, or a “rat” as Frank calls it, on each side of the equation. What happens next is a violent game of cat and mouse as both inside men tries to uncover the other’s identity without compromising their own. In the middle of all this a love triangle is thrown in involving both men and a police shrink, Madolyn (Vera Farmiga). Was this subplot pertinent? Only to the extent that Madolyn could possibly wind up being one more victim amid the violent bloodbath and dead bodies piling up. Either her character was poorly written, or something was left on the cutting room floor. In love with Colin, she succumbs to sex with Billy, the client she sees as part of his “parole” obligation. Where is her code of ethics, or does dangerous liaisons just turn her on? Maybe a better actress than Farmiga could have brought something better to the role. As it stands, I couldn’t care less, as the affair did not bring anything worthy to the storyline.

Another plot hole concerns Billy’s brutal interrogation before being accepted into the police unit. Every aspect of his life was researched, and he was forced to undergo verbal lashing as well as mental and emotional abuse by Denham. Yet, how come Colin was able to pass through the ranks and climb the police ladder without a background check that would have uncovered his involvement with the feared crime boss since his childhood? Furthermore, he’s then put in charge of the special investigative unit to get Costello. Clearly this is a major flaw in the script.

Nevertheless, the positive aspects outshine any of the flaws. Other than Farniga, all the actors are superb. The dialogue is strong, sometimes vulgar and filled with sly wisecracks. And the Boston accents was a no brainer for Massachusetts born Damon and Wahlberg who, as Hollywood actors, worked to lose their New England accent, which came in handy here. Nicholson, as usual, chews up the scenery. But, the surprise powerhouse is Wahlberg in a fierce performance that steals the spotlight every time he is on screen.

This may be the year that Scorsese finally walks away with that golden statue named Oscar. It’s about time and would be well deserved. He delivers a taut, explosive thriller with a sly touch of humor (especially in the very last frame). Audiences will be glued to their seats as the suspense consistently builds. Just close your eyes if you can’t handle acts of sudden violence, severed body parts, blood splattering and the like. This is a Scorsese film, and if you know his work, its par for the course.

To conclude, I have no doubt The Departed title does not reflect what will happen to the film after its release. With positive word of mouth, this powerful film should be hanging around in theatres for a while.