“The Departed,” is a cop, snitch, mob drama centered in Boston. Directed by Martin Scorsese, “The Departed’s” screenplay, written by William Monahan, Siu Fai Mak and Felix Chong, leads the audience through a brilliantly written maze of lies, violence and vengeance. Even a strong screenplay can’t save the movie from Martin Scorsese’s unnecessary gore and the actors’ melodrama.
Billy Costigan, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, goes undercover into the Frank Costello crime family. Matt Damon’s character is a member of the Frank Costello crime family who goes undercover as a state police officer. Their paths intertwine as they both try to root each other out. Their entanglements aren’t only professional; they are both wooing the same love interest, Madolyn, played by Vera Farmiga. Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson obsesses over who the mole in his organization while Oliver Queenan and Sgt. Dignam played by Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg respectively, try desperately to fill the leaks in their organization.
Leonardo DiCaprio is exceptional in the role of Billy Costigan. DiCaprio must portray a character that is naturally vicious but wants desperately to be a good person. Billy also lives in constant fear his deception will be exposed and his life snuffed. DiCaprio’s intensity is overpowering, his fear, disheartening but never overdone.
Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen are the best supporting cast in the movie. Mark Wahlberg’s character is annoying but Wahlberg does a great job making him so. I’ve never seen someone swear so convincingly, so often in one sentence, without seeming insincere. I honestly believed that he is a crazy jackass who has an extremely limited vocabulary. Martin Sheen plays the soft natured Captain Oliver Queenan. Sheen gives a good natured character a bravery that is unexpected by his delicate nature.
Jack Nicholson plays Jack Nicholson. Oh shoot, did I say Jack Nicholson plays Jack Nicholson? Darn, he actually plays Jack Nicholson. Oh dirt, I did it again. Jack Nicholson truly plays Frank Costello, the mob boss. Does Nicholson every play anyone who isn’t Jack Nicholson? Jack Nicholson’s character is endlessly and needlessly bloody. A mobster who has survived for 20 years in the crime world probably would have more restraint then Frank Costello does. Yet Nicholson plays him so completely over the top that his insanity alone would get him locked up in a mental institution.
Matt Damon was utterly disappointing; another example of an actor playing himself. I was not lost in the character at all. I continued to question why he played this character as deeply as a kiddie pool.
Most of the cast of supporting characters seem like they were lifted directly from the supporting cast of “Crank.” Scorsese opened up the “Cliché Bad Guys For Dummies” book and selected his favorites from pages one, two and three, to make up the menagerie of depthless, useless, uninteresting, and downright boring characters.
The only mobster character worth his weight in salt was Mr. French or Frenchie. Ray Winstone gives Frenchie a surprising tender nature, even when he’s doing un-tender things. He is the only character who seems like he has any humanity left.
This film is full of unexceptional things. There is nothing exceptional about the cinematography in this film. It is standard, “press record on tripod” shooting. There is no imaginative use of framing, no impressive angles, no amazing use of light, nothing interesting at all. A well trained grip could have shot this movie. Even the blood packs they use are poorly done. In one of the most “important” scenes in the movie, I can see the outline of the explosive pack they use to simulate a shooting. With such a huge budget, you’d think they’d learn how to light the room so you can’t see it and/or spring for a smaller one. If you wanted to see how exceptional sets could be, well “The Departed” should be last on your list.
I was unimpressed with “The Departed” to say the least.