“The Departed”, Martin Scorsese’s 2007 classic is suspenseful, vulgar, and often engrossing. The taglines are haunting and messes with your mind. Its tone is negative—expect tons of swear words and harsh topics. Mafia fans that love Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” (1990) or “The Godfather” series (1972), or have watched “The Sopranos” (1999) on HBO; will become captivated by “The Departed” asking for more intensity from it.
The film takes place in South Boston, and the state police is waging war on Irish American organized crime. An undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is assigned to permeate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Billy earns Costello’s confidence, but there is also Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the state police an informer for the syndicate, and is rising to position of power in the Special Investigations Unit. All of these characters become swamped with their double life between working for either the bad or the good side (the good side is the police and the bad side is whoever is teaming up with Costello).
As the film progresses, the mob and the police both realize there is a mole in the situation. Billy and Colin put themselves in danger and must figure out whom the blame is on for the corrupt catastrophe. The issue though, Billy and Colin will not admit to their actions of being undercover which has caused the danger among them.
In a movie with secrets, it becomes obvious that one of the characters is going to pay for their actions. The problem, though, is that both Billy and Colin were recruited with the expectation to be silent; Colin is a dirty cop doing work for Costello, Billy is a regular cop but is playing his role right: a disguised mobster. Billy is given a cellphone that is blocked from being traced (Costello is organized and knows how to remain a ghost).
The most brilliant element with “The Departed” is its film editing: done by Thelma Schoonmaker—who won an Oscar for “The Departed” and did the editing for many of Scorsese’s brilliant films. The editing is what a mafia film should be: many montages, CGI, and narrations that make a scene more enticing.
It has the Jack Nicholson personality that viewers love; however it is over the top, it also has many odd moments that Scorsese has Nicholson go over the top with this role—“One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), “The Shining” (1980)—the films where Nicholson goes over his head. Scorsese takes his time with his movies: They start slow, have a taste of bad attitude, and generally the ending of them is a harsh, but either perfect or interesting ending.
“The Departed” is a masterpiece. DiCaprio, Nicholson, and Damon are all Oscar-Worthy. The relationship between DiCaprio and Nicholson fits since Nicholson is DiCaprio’s favorite actor. I guess the relationship of these talented men is how the film is good with the chemistry.