A hush falls throughout the theatre as audience members stare at the screen, mouths open in disbelief. Suddenly there are a series of gasps and groans as a character in Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” meets his violent and bloody end-plummeting from the roof of a six-story building.
Critics say Scorsese is back on top of his game with his remake of Infernal Affairs. With an A-list cast including Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin, audience members are not only drawn but wrenched into a world of gangsters, violence, and of course, good cop/bad cop scenarios. Scorsese makes “The Departed” his own. It is fresh. It is hard. It is violent.
“I don’t want to be the product of my environment. I want my environment to be the product of me,” says Nicholson’s character, Frank Costello, Boston’s Irish mob boss. Costello’s mission and what becomes his life’s code is the opening line of the movie. So begins a twisted tale of violence, lies, sacrifice and betrayal. It is a story of testing just how far a person will go to succeed.
Early in the movie, Costello seduces a neighborhood boy with the gangster way of life. By the present time he has groomed Colin Sullivan (Damon) into becoming his in-house mole at the Massachusetts State Police Department. Damon excels at his character. He’s suave, he’s smart, he’s charming, yet at times, he’s a little pathetic. Sullivan is an up-and-coming officer in the state police’s Special Investigative Unit with promotions all but thrown at him. The SIU’s prime target is the Irish mob, Costello in particular. Sullivan goes through the motions of solving cases and becoming closer to “getting” the mob. However, the entire time, he leaks police information to his boss, Costello.
Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is a kid from the streets with a violent past and crooked family history. He tries to overcome his street reputation by becoming a police officer, only to become the police academy misfit. He is handpicked by Oliver Queenan (Sheen) and his deputy, Dignam (Wahlberg) – the heads of a separate undercover unit within the state police. Costigan has a rough past and a family history linked to Costello. Queenan and Dignam convince him to become their mole in Costello’s gang.
Suddenly there is a compelling plot in the movie. The state police know they have a rat in their Special Investigative Unit, and Costello realizes he has a rat in his crew. A series of risks and sacrifices occur as Costigan sends information to the cops about Costello’s plans while Sullivan reports police intelligence to Costello. Both realize there are leaks in the two units, but neither knows who it might be.
Everything spins out of control when Damon’s character is promoted to find the rat in the Special Investigative Unit. He realizes he’s being asked to find himself. “The Departed” reveals many unexpected twists and turns as trust is broken and fear leads to irrational decisions.
Scorsese couldn’t have picked a better cast to fill the roles in this film. Critics say it’s DiCaprio’s best work yet, saying he “makes you feel the suicidal craziness of ‘having to be a different guy everyday.'” The supporting roles filled by Baldwin, Sheen, and Wahlberg ignite the screen. Critics claim Wahlberg steals every scene he appears in. They also praise Nicholson’s performance, calling his character “Jack Torrance from “The Shining” given a new lease on life and scraped clean of all human scruple-a joyfully vulgar psycho.”
The suspense has audience members at the edge of their seats, gripping the arm rests, waiting for the climatic event that completely changes the pace of the film. The movie also contains a world of profanity, sex and drugs, as do most gangster films. However, moviegoers won’t be disappointed. As number one at the box office, Scorsese’s “The Departed” is definitely a hit.