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THE DEPARTED


DEPARTED, THE , USA , 2006, MPAA Rating : R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material

With THE DEPARTED, Martin Scorsese has taken a good film, the Hong Kong minor classic INFERNAL AFFAIRS, and remade it into a movie that is as bloated as it is bland. Gone is the dramatic tension of a slick action flick, gone is the suspenseful psychological subtext that pondered the nature of identity, subsumed into something as inflated with its own sense of epic destiny as the Hindenburg was with hydrogen and just as doomed.

 

The premise is two rats, the term is used compulsively throughout the film, both cops, one good and one bad, who have each infiltrated the other’s organization. Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio and his wildly flaring nostrils) deep undercover in the operation of Boston’s primary crime lord Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson, playing himself once again and mugging for the camera for good measure). Colin (Matt Damon trying hard to make his wholesomeness work for him), taken under Costello’s wing at a tender age and is now working for him from inside law enforcement. Never mind that no one else inside law enforcement has picked up on this association that is anything but discreet, the actual police work depicted makes Nancy Drew look sophisticated. And never mind that while the two guys don’t know one another, they do have a girlfriend in common. Played as a shapely and willing blank slate by Vera Farmiga, she’s the department’s psychiatrist, who also sees hardened felons, which is Billy’s cover.

 

Sure, the film looks good, with Scorsese whipping the camera around with the same wild abandon as the protagonists exhibit as they sling ethnic slurs and assorted physical mayhem. There is a rich visual texture to the sense of place and reams of back story for the leads. Alas it is in a script that uses the punctuated equilibrium approach to storytelling. Each individual scene is a set piece eminently suitable for inclusion in an actor’s workshop handbook. The relationship of any one scene to any other is tenuous such that they could almost be played in a random order and achieve very much the same effect. In and of itself, this is not a fatal flaw. There is such an excess of expository dialogue that it all but talks the audience to death. Forget the explosions, the bursts of gunfire, and the blunt force trauma with which the film is rife, the most deadly thing going on here is the endless round of oblique conversations everyone has. Couple that with actors who are for the most part posturing for Oscars rather than creating characters, creating an experience that is stupefying rather than the intended electrifying. The two exceptions are Mark Wahlburg as one of Billy’s handlers, whose suspicious nature and work with profanity are both refined to an fine aesthetic, and Alec Baldwin, as a puckishly cynical police honcho given to dunking his head in a bowl of ice water. As for Nicholson, he is just one more embarrassingly heavy-handed device Scorsese uses, in addition to actually having a rat cross the screen at one point, he also throws a red light on Nicholson at one point just to make sure that no one in the audience has failed to grasp that he is properly identified with Satan, even after seeing him smoosh Billy's already broken hand to a further pulp. And that was when he was trying to ingratiate himelf with Billy. 

 

There is much sound, even more fury, in THE DEPARTED, but not enough to fuel 2 ½ hours of pronouncements such as “my hands never shake” and yet another contemplation about the Irish experience in America that is neither illuminating nor germane. Not unlike the film as a whole.




  My rating:



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Moviegoer Review
 
Phil (philippe.orlando@gmail.com)
Thank you for a good review of this bad movie. Somebody gave me the DVD and I forced myself to watch a story with a 70's plot, boring, no psychological depth, nothing. And that piece of art got an oscar? wow, that confirms what I knew. Hollywood lost it a long time ago.
 
Christian (hieroglyfikx@yahoo.com)
I was honestly looking forward to this movie. There is no way around it : it stank, it stank bad. Completely disjointed, unrealistic, virtually not a single character with depth or who I could even remotely care about and probably the cheapest ending I've seen in a long time. This movie had all the ingredients for a great flick, yet it failed. I can't wait for time to show all these vapid fanboys and airheads what a complete waste of space and overblown hype this piece of garbage is.
 
Xin Hua (xinhua@yahoo.com)
The emperor has no clothes. Thank you for a spot-on review of this mediocre film. What a disappointment this was -- I just saw it on DVD -- after all the hype. I can't believe how highly it's been rated. And the nominations?! Ridiculous. I assume Scorcese will get his Oscar this time, but it'll just be a gift.
 
J.R. (radsticals@myway.com)
Waited impatiently for the dvd.HUGE disappointment.Boggles the mind and an insult to my intelligence.A "thinker" from start to finish,if you're still awake.Nothing at all like "Goodfellas" or "Casino".No comparison whatsoever.Those 2 movies blew this away.I tried watching it a 2nd time to see if I was missing something.Lasted 45 minutes then fell asleep.Just pure bull and a total waste of time.Don't believe the good reviews.It's all about $$$$.Rent "Internal affairs"(Hong kong version) instead. :(
 
Steve (Steviemac413@yahoo.com)
Brian, he was DiCaprio was never a cop he just was in training to become a cop. Not to mention Jackie Boy didnt know about the rat until a year after Leo signed on. Glad to see you know so much about organized crime. I'm glad everyone can overanalyze such an amazing film. Fantastic acting, tons of excitement, and great tension. The people that do not agree with the idea that this is an amazing film are simply doing so in an attempt to "Go against the hype and mainstream". If you are in a room where 99 people say something is great and you alone disagree, guess what you are wrong. 1 + 1 will not equal 3 as much as you want it to.
 
HYC (artemis72@excite.com)
Finally a reviewer who knows what a good film isn't. The Departed is nothing more than a cheap attempt by Scorsese to aim for the golden statute. He has taken the original, Infernal Affairs (IA), and twisted it into a cheap flick filled with profanities and violence. IA garnered many awards in Asia - deservedly so. Unfortunately, it's hard to translate language and culture for a wider audience. The Departed was a total disappointment - never should've been made.
 
Jeremy Clulow (jeremy@webswonder.co.uk)
I couldn't agree more with this review. I believe Scorsese deserves an Oscar for "No Direction Home" but unfortunately not for this let-down. It's no even credible. In an era where mobile phone calls can be monitored, and the owners located so easily and accurately, are we really supposed to believe that a bent cop can persistently phone his boss (from work even!) and remain undetected when everyone is under suspicion? Come of it Martin! I found this film less convincing, less exciting, less well crafted and certainly less credible than the classic "LA Confidential" Neither was it salvaged by the excellent acting of the main players.
 
SpencerPI.Com (hirepimike@aol.com)
Kudos for calling a spade a spade. This was really two movies. The first half moves well and sizzles; the second degenerates into top actors mugging for the camera. The movie loses its self: Is it a self-conscious Pulp Fiction or Jack, Wahlberg, Baldwin, etc. mugging for the camera ad nauseum. The movie seems based on the Whitey Bulger character in South Boston. By the end of the movie my friends and I were looking at each other with WTF expressions.
 
al (al@hotmail.com)
good review for average movie. movie was boring, predictable and with no tension. rat on balcony was cheezy and in bad taste.
 
Carol (carol.cooney@sun.com)
Rotten Tomato and Rancid Cabbage. The rats most definitely got to the script of this Scorsese failure, which hole to address first?? You know what, I'm not even gonna bother. Kept waiting for the clever bits to kick in, they never did... Despite this DiCaprio as ever gave a fantastic performance but then he'd make vomiting look good. The Departed?? Watch it if you wanna see how good actors go bad.
 
ubu55 (ubu55@sbcglobal.net)
Thanks for an honest review, one that refuses to simply buy into all the usual hype.
 
Francine Menaker (fmenaker@nyc.rr.com)
Thank goodness. A reviewer not awed by the reputations of Nicholson and Scorcese. The movie was interminable. I had no reason to care about anyone in it. In fact, I can discern any reason for making it. I agree that Baldwin and Wahlberg were bright spots, although I do think DiCaprio gave a fine performance. However, I could not wait for this movie do end, my only regeret was that anyone survived!. The crowning touch was the rat on the balcony. Just incase we idiots didn't get the supposed point of the film. How over the top was that. This was a stinker.
 
pHDcritic (milmaxx@hotmail.com)
Sign up as many A lists as possible and dont worry about how the movie hangs together. The Departed was uneven and relied on killing all the A list actors at the end to give the a punchy ending. A much over rated movie and should be renamed The Dissapointed!!
 
Zinderella (zin_de_zine@yahoo.ca)
Thank-you for your review...I give this movie a truckload of rotten tomatoes! Four of us went last night, and walked out after the first 20 or 25 minutes. The film was boring; every other word was f*** and the violence was too much to stomach. There may have been upcoming interesting twists and turns in the plot, but the film lost our interest after the first ten minutes. We only stayed for a while longer because we paid good money for what we thought might be good entertainment.
 
Jake (jrake@austin.rr.com)
You can probably find flaws in every movie, but if you want 2.5 hours of entertainment in a dark room, you'd be hard-pressed to find something better than The Departed. I think one of Martin's best in years.
 
Mimi (mimjoesar@aol.com)
I agree with the negative reviw and am surprised to see it receiveing such glowing reviews. First of, let's talk about the phoney and distracting Boston accents. No one did it well in my book and by the way this is present day Boston, not everyone speaks that way. Even the shrink has a Boston accent. Doesn't anyone in the movie come from out of town? Then comes the totally one dimensional Marky Mark character. He never deviates from the smart alec, cussing hard ass. No nuance there. And the shrink Pa lease. She was living with a total sociopath and had no clue. Then without any motivation, sleeps with Leonardo. This movie had some interesting moments and some good acting but parts were almost laughable bad. Scorcese is out of step.
 
Kay (kays_mb-pub1@yahoo.com)
I was disappointed by this movie. It seemed way too disjointed to me by lacking a clear storyline. It had it's moments, but few of them. I heard people comparing it to "Goodfellas". I think not..
 
Richie F. (RichardJFlorinoJ@aol.com)
A great Film perhaps the best film of the 21ST Century!!!
 
jerry (jerry40w@yahoo.com)
I enjoyed the film and found more to like about it than the reviewer. But...what does the script writer and Martin have against the mental health profession? What a demeaning, unbelieveable slam-job they did in creating a nutsy, weird loser psychiatrist. Couldn't be believeable. Not just a glicth of straining credultiy, a giant blotch!
 
brian (brianj1979@aol.com)
I agree with the review but i think a point was missed. Decaprio would have never survived a day in any organized crime family. WHat boss in his right mind would ever take a so-called former cop and Hire him on then with in a few minuites discovers there is a Mole (rat) in his organization. Just made no sense to me at all. I would have waxed him the second i found out someone was snitching on My activities. He was the obvious choice. I think Martin really made the bad guys out to be extremely violent dumbasses. Totally unbelievable Plot
 
allan johnson (rabbits23@bigpond.com)
I agree the film is deeply flawed but I was very much engaged even so.I loved the line about the environment by Costello and the Joyce quotation.Costello's philosophy on life was puzzling.I mean he was clearly an intelligent observant person.Surely he would have chosen something more rewarding to do in life.Oh well I guess it doesn't matter a great deal in the end. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the film;it gave me lots to think about. Al
 


Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson




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