Thursday, October 19, 2006

Movie Review: The Departed

When Hollywood remakes foreign films it doesn't often do a good job. But in the case of The Departed, we have a movie worthy of the original Hong Kong movie, Infernal Affairs, on which it is based. Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) wants to be a police officer but, because of a lapse in self-control which results in him losing his badge, is pressured into becoming an undercover agent in the Irish Mafia in order to bring down Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), a notorious gangster who perpetrates violence and bloodshed with disdain for the law. Billy has to penetrate into the deepest level of organised crime over a number of years as he transforms himself into the "genuine" article to get close to Costello. At the same time, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is undercover in the Boston State Police Force for Frank Costello and provides inside information to "Father" so that Frank can avoid being caught when engaging in his criminal activity. Costigan and Sullivan are not aware of each other but their paths inevitably cross in a dangerous game of cat and mouse. The Departed is directed by Martin Scorcese and is an in-your-face action-packed, intricate, gritty crime drama/thriller. When I saw Infernal Affairs in Hong Kong I really enjoyed it -- lots of action and a plot line that required enormous concentration -- especially reading subtitles! The Departed is equally enjoyable but more character driven than the Hong Kong version, making it a greater movie in some ways. Nicholson, Damon, and DiCaprio are all excellent in their roles (although Nicholson is sometimes a little too self-indulgent in his portrayal of Costello). The plot twists and turns without letting up and the dialogue is brilliant. It's hard-hitting and gritty as the protagonists are required to struggle with the ethics of deliberate deception along with other crimes than prey on their consciences. The Departed is extremely and explicitly violent and there is lots of bad language-- so it will not suit everyone. But there are obviously people who live in the world that the movie portrays. And not everything is black and white -- to a great extent, the characters are the product of their environments and upbringing and, despite the opposite sides of the fence from which they come, end up having to struggle with their consciences, issues of loyalty, and profound loneliness. The Departed is an incredible, exciting, confronting movie that bursts on the screen with incredible power. Not for the faint-hearted! But definitely for those who want to see what will be a classic piece of cinema in years to come. My Rating: **** (out of 5) Positive Review 'The Departed is Scorsese's most purely enjoyable movie in years. But it's not for the faint of heart. It's rude, bleak, violent and defiantly un-PC. But if you doubt that it's also OK to laugh throughout this rat's nest of paranoia, deceit and bloodshed, keep your eyes on the final frames. Scorsese's parting shot is an uncharacteristic, but well-earned, wink.' - David Ansen/Newsweek Negative Review 'Scorsese in his prime might've made better use of this hamming, but this picture feels like an exercise by a Scorsese clone who has tackled the master's themes - without his energy and economy of style.' - Lawrence Toppmann/Charlotte Observer Content Warning (take this seriously!) strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material AUS: MA15+ USA: R

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