While the story goes off in half a dozen different directions (if you smell fish in the theater its because the films got its fair share of red herrings), theres really only one plotline that matters: the race to uncover moles hidden inside the mob and the Massachusetts State Police. Leonardi DiCaprio stars as Billy Costigan, a rookie cop recruited straight out of the academy to infiltrate Boston crime boss Frank Costellos world.
Costigan worms his way into Costellos good graces mostly by kicking the crap out of anyone who glances his way. But Costellos got an ace up his sleeve in the form of Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), an overly eager, overachieving cop who feeds the gangster insider info on potential busts. Colin was practically raised by Costello and even calls him dad when he phones in tips.
Hand him his certificate; Matt Damon has graduated to another level of acting. Scorsese gets the absolute best there is out of Damon who, on the surface, seems like the least likely choice to play a crooked cop who sides with the mob. His eyes ice up and you can see the wheels working as he measures how to play each situation. Damon delivers a coldly calculated performance that almost gives you goosebumps.
Scorseses new favorite actor, DiCaprio, nails the conflicted cop struggling to hold onto his sanity in a situation spiraling out of control. Although hes played adults characters many times before, somehow this performance feels like the first time weve seen a mature DiCaprio onscreen. Hes still boyishly handsome but in The Departed theres a hard edge to his features thats never been there before.
DiCaprio, Damon and Nicholson may lead the charge but the supporting characters are equally up to the challenge. Mark Wahlbergs character is worthy of his own spin-off. As a foul-mouthed state trooper who doesnt care who he insults or offends, Wahlberg spends the film in a state of rage. Underrated as an actor, this could be Wahlberg's best performance to date. Also impressive are Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen as two senior officers trying to bring down Costello and his crew.
Even the insertion of a love triangle, something that would normally disturb me to no end in a drama of this sort, doesnt hurt the film. Scorseses structures the beginning of The Departed with scenes within scenes, just to set up the final act. Annoying in other circumstances, the tactic works because the filmmaker knows how to keep the viewer engaged. Scorsese pulls out all the stops, using lighting, camera angles, and rock music to capture the down and dirty world of mobs versus cops in The Departed.
Adapted by William Monahan from the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs, The Departed is a star-studded gangster thriller loaded with profanity, dark humor, graphic violence, and stunning performances. Its wild and edgy and everything weve come to love about Scorsese.
The Departed was directed by Martin Scorsese and is rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material.