Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg
Runtime: 151 min
One of 2006’s best-loved movies, Scorsese’s latest is one to bet money on for Oscar night. With more emphasis on dialogue than action, it explores the psychology behind hate and criminality while supplying all the macho police talk and graphic violence you could wish for. Rife with deceit, secret identities, indistinct allegiances and misguided morals, Scorsese gives us a clever, fast-paced plot, sharp dialogue, understated humour and lots of suspense.
Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an undercover cop infiltrating Boston’s underworld who is so convincing that he gets away with ordering cranberry juice in grotty bars. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is an altar boy-cum-policeman who is passing information to the villains. As each attempts to figure out the other’s identity, things get intricate, especially when über-evil yet avuncular Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) enters the picture.
The acting is superb; Nicholson is a memorable mob boss, potty-mouthed Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) steals every scene he appears in and DiCaprio’s acting tour de force matches his performance in The Aviator.
The numerous murders and grim surroundings are livened up by the upbeat soundtrack, ranging from Pink Floyd to opera to Irish folk-punk, filling the movie with an energetic life force and making it an ultimately uplifting experience. Sadly, Matt Damon’s exaggerated overacting and the somewhat ignorable love triangle subplot detract from the whole, but not irredeemably.
The scenes are beautifully shot, capturing the grime and glamour of crime, and the build-up to the finale through the network of doubt and cover-ups is tremendous. Star-studded, epic and gritty in feel, The Departed has all the makings of a modern cult classic.