The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
Print Issues
Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.

Vintage Scorsese

“The Departed”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Screenplay by William Monahan, based on the 2002 film, “Infernal Affairs”

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winstone and Martin Sheen

Rated R/149 minutes

Opens Oct. 6, 2006

Four out of four stars

No filmmaker in the world has more energy than Martin Scorsese. He’s like a little Italian ball of fireworks, and when he’s in true form, that energy can be more infectious than a SARS epidemic. It rubs off on his cast, his crew and his audiences. His movies are veritable powder kegs-there’s never been anyone else quite like him.

Even if you didn’t know anything about “The Departed,” the director’s latest, it would be instantly recognizable as signature Scorsese-the vibrant, gliding camerawork, the brutality and humor, the pulsating energy that jumps out of every frame.

Technically, it’s a remake of the popular 2002 Hong Kong film, “Infernal Affairs.” But Scorsese’s stamp is all over it, taking a movie with a very simple plot and infusing it with the depth and intensity that puts it on the level of near-epic tragedy.

Actors love to work with Scorsese, as he nearly always pulls the absolute best out of them. He does so again with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, who play moles on opposite sides of the law. Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is an undercover cop, plagued with guilt for his shady family history, now trying to make up for it by infiltrating Boston’s Irish mob-and, most importantly, getting in the good graces of mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). His identity is a secret to everyone on the force except Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Dignam (Mark Wahlberg).

Damon is Colin Sullivan, whom Costello recruited as a young kid 20 years ago (think Ray Liotta’s character in “GoodFellas”). Now, he’s Costello’s mole in the Special Investigations Unit. Not only is he in charge of a task force organized to catch Costello, but in an ironic twist he’s also been put in charge of finding the mole. What ensues is a fascinating cat-and-mouse exercise-fascinating because neither Billy nor Colin knows exactly whom they’re chasing.

DiCaprio and Damon are two actors whose talents often get marginalized because of their fame and boyish looks. Here, they give dual performances-their demeanors change depending on the company. We get multiple sides to each character-and DiCaprio and Damon nail it.

DiCaprio has one of the most emotionally expressive faces in the business, and he gives a multi-faceted performance as a man torn and tortured by anxiety and guilt, a man constantly on the verge of being found out. Damon, as the snarky detective/calculating mob soldier, is playing against type as the bad guy, and he’s completely believable.

Even though the two stars are rarely on screen together, there is a palpable and electrifying tension between the two as they get closer to discovering each other’s identities.

And then there’s Nicholson, taking what originally was a small role and creating something of his own-a vitriolic and psychopathic villain who nonetheless comes across as a real character instead of an over-the-top caricature. Only Jack could pull this off. And in sunglasses, too.

Judging by plot summary alone, “The Departed” could be just another gimmicky crime thriller. But Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan aren’t satisfied with that. “Infernal Affairs” was a good movie, but never strayed far from the surface of the plot. “The Departed” goes deeper. Not only are the characters more defined, but the thematic intricacies give the film poignance and resonance that the original never could, even with all the on-screen charisma of Tony Leung and Andy Lau.

“The Departed” isn’t just about the respective betrayals of Costigan and Sullivan-it is about the very roots of betrayal itself. There are so many betrayals, on so many different levels, that the film seems to be taking the time to question the very definition of loyalty.

It’s unfortunate that some people have chosen to pigeonhole Scorsese, chastising him for “abandoning” the gangster movies that once defined him. Some have called this movie a “return to form,” an unfair statement since he’s made plenty of excellent movies even in recent years, such as “The Aviator” and the unheralded “Bringing Out the Dead.”

It is nice, however, to see Scorsese back on the mean streets. It reminds us that he basically created the modern crime genre. There would be no such thing as “The Sopranos,” “The Usual Suspects” or even “Pulp Fiction” without him. With “The Departed,” he proves he still does it better than anyone.

“All right, Billy, drop them drawers so’s I can check for weapons?yeah, weapons.” Leonardo DiCaprio weeps for Jack Nicholson’s mercy in “The Departed.”

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Daily Utah Chronicle welcomes comments from our community. However, the Daily Utah Chronicle reserves the right to accept or deny user comments. A comment may be denied or removed if any of its content meets one or more of the following criteria: obscenity, profanity, racism, sexism, or hateful content; threats or encouragement of violent or illegal behavior; excessively long, off-topic or repetitive content; the use of threatening language or personal attacks against Chronicle members; posts violating copyright or trademark law; and advertisement or promotion of products, services, entities or individuals. Users who habitually post comments that must be removed may be blocked from commenting. In the case of duplicate or near-identical comments by the same user, only the first submission will be accepted. This includes comments posted across multiple articles. You can read more about our comment policy here.
All The Daily Utah Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *