The Mark of Excellence

The Departed

Directed by Martin Scorsese

> > Mar 2007

The Departed - Directed by Martin Scorsese
By James KeastHe’s only made five films set in the criminal underground, Martin Scorsese points out in a DVD featurette, and as unlikely as that seems, it’s true. Mean Streets (1973), GoodFellas (1990), Casino (1995), Gangs of New York (2002) and this Oscar-nominated masterpiece are the only ones that concern themselves with organised crime. But what a stamp he’s put on that world! With possibly the most heavyweight cast of men ever put together in a film (aside perhaps The Godfather cannon), Scorsese tells the tale of Irish Catholic mobsters in South Boston: cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes undercover while mob-loyal Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) heads up a police investigation to find a mole within the organised crime unit. (He’s an investigator trying to find himself.) It’s Jack Nicholson’s role as boss Frank Costello that provides the bridge between The Departed’s Hong Kong roots (it’s based on Infernal Affairs) and its current locale: Costello is based on real-life South Boston crime lord James "Whitey” Bulger, who not only shaped his neighbourhood similarly to the way Nicholson’s Costello does, but actually escaped and remains number two on the F.B.I.’s most wanted list to this day, after only Osama Bin Laden. Other featurettes showcase Scorsese’s remarkable film knowledge, as in the 90-minute career overview Scorsese on Scorsese, originally made for TCM. His understanding of the symbols and structures he employs is all the more remarkable given how wholly entertaining and watchable the film is: the references to Cagney’s The Public Enemy or the 1932 Scarface are just sweet topping for film buffs as keen as he. But if you just want a wild ride that’s both clever and visceral, you can’t go wrong with the greatest film Scorsese’s made since the last greatest film he made. (Which one that was, you can debate with yourself.) Plus: deleted scenes, more.
(Warner)
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