The Departed takes place in Boston and follows the Irish mob. It’s Scorseses’ first remake, the original was a 2002 Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs. We follow the story of the Irish mob in Boston and how to sniff out a rat on both sides: the mob-influenced cop (Sgt. Colin Sullivan played by Matt Damon) and a good cop infiltrating the mob (Billy Costigan played by Leonardo DiCaprio). A jaw-droppingly all-star cast from supporting to leading – from the aformentioned to Jack Nicholson to arguably Mark Walhberg’s first great performance – this film is nearly perfect.
Before Zach Braff was killing it at movie soundtracks, there was Martin Scorsese. You cannot discuss a Scorsese film without mentioning the music. This film portrays the Irish mob world in “Southie” Boston so the music depicts the gritty harsh world with ear-blasting songs like “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by the Dropkick Murphy’s and the raw “Well Well Well” by John Lennon, along with the Scorsese theme song “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones which fits perfectly into each of his films. The soundtrack is that cherry on top of the delicious film sundae, and Scorsese never disappoints.
We follow the main characters Costigan and Sullivan but in all honesty, it is probably the supporting characters that make this film excel. Mark Walhberg is hardly in the film and yet his depiction of Sergeant Dignam is honest and hilarious. The scene in which Dignam and Ellerby (played by Alec Baldwin) brief the officers is probably one of my favorite back and forth bit scenes in the world. I guess I have a soft spot for the “f” work and “your mother” jokes. The best is that the scene plays with such ease, it’s quick, not jokey, and just real. Sure, he curses a lot, he’s a cop in Boston.
Jack Nicholson who plays the main antagonist and mob king pin, Frank Costello, is also an excellent character. He’s evil but likeable at the same time. Costello is like an uncle or father-figure to Sullivan. With that, there are brief moments of tough love moments between the two of them, but there are also moments of him throwing cocaine to a pretty woman and telling her “don’t move til you’re numb.” Hilarious and crazy at the same time.
What’s always great about nearly every Martin Scorsese film (non-biopic ones) is the ending continues to shock you. I don’t want to spoil the end if you haven’t seen it but the last few minutes is mind-blowing. You are left with confusion at first and then so excited for the retaliation. Then, the cherry on top of the ending is, as the camera pans out from the window sill that shows views of gold dome State house we see a rat scamper across the windowsill and the theme of rats just goes full circle.
Overall, this movie never disappoints and while people argue saying it’s not the first film that Scorsese deserved to win for, it was the one that actually did. It cemented in history that Scorsese is one and will always be one of the most legendary directors of all time