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October 24, 2006
The premise for The Departed is a relatively simple one, and the great triumph is that Martin Scorsese has made it seem complex while making it extremely watchable. The film is also quite long (151mins), but again the film is good enough to make you forget just how late it is.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon put in great performances as two cops on opposite sides of the tracks. DiCaprio plays the good-as-gold cop who spends over a year undercover trying to infiltrate the Irish mafia who are sending microchips to terrorists. Damon is essentially undercover at the police on behalf of the mafia, and the film revolves around the two of them trying to discover the identity of the other.
If the film has a weakness it’s that it makes a half-baked attempt to throw in a love story. Surprise surprise, but DiCaprio and Damon both fall for the same woman, both at the same time.
DiCaprio’s acting is probably the stronger of the two leads, although this may be because he has more to do. He is of course beaten by an incredible Jack Nicholson, for whom awards will be heading his way early in 2007. Martin Sheen as the police chief is also brilliant – putting up a far more passionate performance than his latter years as Josiah Bartlett, and Mark Wahlberg recovers from a shaky start to deliver a fine act towards the end.
The end is probably a little bit predictable, although I won’t give the game away.
The Departed is Scorsese’s best effort in a good while – certainly better than The Aviator and Gangs of New York. But I’m not sure it will earn Scorsese his long-deserved Oscar for Best Director. While the script is brilliant, the direction may be too subtle to stand out against some of the other films due out in coming months.
P.S. Fans of 24 should keep an eye out for Chase Edmunds (A.K.A. James Badge Dale) with hair! It’s not a pretty sight.