Thursday, February 01, 2007

Movie Review: The Departed

The Departed

In Brief: What's Good

  • Nicely arranged plot carries a lot of complexity but still comes off as believable.

  • Good performances by Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, and Vera Farmiga.

In Brief: What's Not So Good

  • Horrendous dialogue. The F-word alone feels like 10% of the movie's script. Does not deserve Oscar nomination for screenplay.

  • The performances by Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin seem over-rated, very much over the top. Either that, or I just really hated their characters. Matt Damon deserves acting Oscar far more than Mark Wahlberg.

  • If profanity bothers you, this movie isn't for you. Not only is the F-word in almost every sentence spoken, but the C-word (for female parts) is dropped a few times too.

C+ Story
B Acting
B Directing
B- Visuals

With an all-star cast, The Departed tells the story of an under-cover Massachusetts state police officer Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) who goes undercover to expose an infamous Boston mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). At the same time, Nicholson's protege, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), has himself become a state police officer and has risen to a high ranking position. Sullivan feeds vital police information to Costello which keeps him from getting caught while committing mob business.

State Police Capts. Queenan and Ellerby (Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin) suspect that there is a mole inside the department. Trusting Sullivan's spotless record, they ironically put him in charge of the investigation. Simultaneously, Costello suspects that there is a cop in his crew, so he initiates an internal investigation of his to find who the "rat" is. This forces Costigan to dig deeper into his undercover identity and do his own investigating into who the mole in the police department is, so that he can get his own life back.

These circumstances lead Sullivan and Costigan into a cat and mouse game, with both characters being cat and mouse at the same time. The movie deftly handles the twists, turns, and tension that result. That's the good part. However, I still had to penalize this movie in the story category because it is riddled with unlikeable characters and a few tons of vulgar dialogue. To put it simply, the movie is a fun story to follow but an annoying and unpleasant story to listen to. I can accept a significant amount of profanity in a movie about cops & mobsters, but every-other-word profanity is too distracting.

For a movie about corruption, crime, lying, double-crossing, murder, etc., this movie serves its purpose. After a while, the death toll starts to make the movie look like a Shakespearean tragedy. I guess it's just not my kind of movie, no matter how many awards and positive critical reviews it gets.

For a movie with similar content but with better dialogue, more likeable characters, and some even bigger twists and turns, I would recommend Lucky Number Slevin, another 2006 mob caper that has been on video for several months now.

Oscar Awards

  • Win - Best Picture

  • Win - Best Director: Martin Scorsese

  • Win - Best Adapted Screenplay: William Monahan

  • Win - Best Editing

  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actor: Mark Wahlberg

Screen Actor Guild Awards

  • Nomination - Best Motion Picture Cast

  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

Golden Globe Awards

  • Win - Best Director: Martin Scorsese

  • Nomination - Best Drama Motion Picture

  • Nomination - Best Drama Lead Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actor: Jack Nicholson

  • Nomination - Best Supporting Actor: Mark Wahlberg

  • Nomination - Best Screenplay: William Monahan

Fun Facts from Internet Movie Database

Mel Gibson was considered for an unspecified role, but he was about to start production on Apocalypto. Denis Leary was considered for the role of Dignam, but had scheduling conflicts with his TV show Rescue Me. Brad Pitt was originally cast as Colin Sullivan but had to drop out. Jack Nicholson originally turned down his role until meeting with Scorses and DiCaprio and realizing that he wanted to play a villain again after doing several comedies. The F-word and its derivatives are spoken 237 times throughout the film. The C-word is spoken 22 times. With a runtime of 151 minutes, the F-word was spoken an average of once per 40.5 seconds, the C-word once per 6 minutes 51.8 seconds.

Fun Facts from Wikipedia

Robert DeNiro was considered for the roles of both Frank Costello and Captain Queenan, but he was too busy directing The Good Shepherd. Leonardo DiCaprio was originally cast in The Good Shepherd, but dropped out to star in The Departed. Ironically, Matt Damon replaced DiCaprio in The Good Shepherd while still co-starring in The Departed. Jack Nicholson refused to wear a Boston Red Sox baseball cap in the film and instead wore a New York Yankees cap.

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