Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Departed

We went to see The Departed, Martin Scorsese's latest movie, last weekend and, even though I'm not a great fan of gangster movies, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

In essence it's a remake of the hit Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs for the Western audience and the scriptwriters and Scorsese have given it a truly gritty and explosive storyline. As you'd expect for a Scorsese movie, it sports a serious big-name cast with the leads being played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson with solid support from Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone and Alec Baldwin. Here's a summary of the plot…
Set in the South Boston territory of Irish-American gang boss Frank Costello (Nicholson), this is story of two young men and their conflicting roles in the ongoing war between the gangs and the Massachusetts State Police. Both have grown up on the hard streets of Boston and now, graduates of the Police Training Academy, they join the force with very different goals in life.

Sullivan Graduating
While Colin Sullivan (Damon) has grown up as a favoured confident of Costello and has been groomed to become one of his inside men on the force, Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) has had a rougher ride, being the son of a man who deliberately walked a straighter, if much poorer line through life. When they join up, Sullivan fits easily into a role within the Special Investigations Unit and is ideally placed to help further the aims of crime boss Costello while Costigan is immediately recruited by Sheen and Wahlberg as a member of their undercover team. His mission is to infiltrate and become a trusted member of Costello's gang in order to provide information and evidence in the ongoing investigation.

While Costello has engineered the theft of some serious military microprocessors and intends to sell them to the Chinese, it becomes obvious to both Sullivan and Costigan that there's a rat in each other's respective camp. What follows is a violent and bloody race to discover the rats' identities before the goods can be exchanged but who will triumph first? If Costigan wins, the Police stand a chance of arresting Costello and his mob red-handed but if Sullivan wins…

Costello and Costigan
This is probably the best gangster movie to come of Hollywood for years! It's way up there with the likes of Goodfellas and The Godfather. Scorsese's direction is superb and there's hardly a minute to hang to your seat while the action and tension drives through a high speed. The casting and acting are also of an extraordinarily high quality and, while the gold star has to go to DiCaprio for his best performance to date, both Damon and Nicholson deliver performances of equally high merit. And, even though their roles are smaller, Sheen, Wahlberg, Winstone and Baldwin are powerful presences when on screen.

As you'd expect of a Scorsese gangster movie, this is a very violent, profane and gory film but it's done with such gritty realism and conviction that it's all used to great effect in portraying the characters as they were meant to be. Only a few minutes into the movie and we're left in no doubt that Costello and his sidekick Mr. French (Winstone) are a pair of ice-cold killers.

I've been known to doze off in a darkened and warm cinema after a decent meal but my attention was riveted to the screen all the way through with this one. The Departed is destined to become a classic of the American cinema so go see it now while it's on the big screen.

Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
My Rating: 9/10

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