By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is a little bit retro. I’ve chosen Martin Scorsese’s 2006 cop thriller The Departed. It’s hard to believe that this film is now a decade old.
This picture is littered with Hollywood A-listers including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Ray Winstone just to name a few.
Following on from Gangs of New York and The Aviator, this film continued the blossoming friendship between Marty and Leo. Scorsese also won his solitary Oscar (so far) for this film…
The Departed follows an undercover cop (Leo DiCaprio) and a mole (Matt Damon) in a police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.
The narrative sounds difficult to follow but because of the way Scorsese has directed this flick it’s relatively simple. There are no flashbacks or flash-forwards and it’s all pretty linear. This film needs to be that way else it could be disengaging. There are a few twists along the way but Marty makes sure they connect with the audience.
I mentioned above that Scorsese won the Best Director Academy Award for this film but I honestly believe he won this for his back catalogue too. This movie is very good but definitely not his best. The main reason he collected the Oscar for this film in my opinion is based on how he delivered it. Basically, the audience are constantly ‘in the know’ of what is going on; however, Scorsese still manages to build intensity in certain scenes. That is incredibly difficult to do when the narrative is laid out in front of the viewers.
He also successfully manages to get the best out of the huge talents which is very rare when so many ‘big-wigs’ are on screen at the same time. Jack Nicholson, Leo and Matt Damon in particular are brilliant in The Departed. Nicholson’s ruthless mob boss character is fully believable and he makes many scenes unnerving. Leo and Matt’s toing and froing is brilliant to watch as they are both on constant edge with their stories entwining. They have complex and layered roles to deliver with both characters having to play two characters effectively. They both have undercover identities that they must juggle with their true aspirations.
The casting of the actors who dabble on the fringes is also on point. Ray Winstone and Mark Wahlberg in particular offer great sequences when called upon. The direction and acting is where the movie truly wins.
For me, my only ‘let-down’ is the rushed climax. I understand that there is always a point in the film where everything must come together as the narrative suggests, I just feel it’s a little rushed. The last 15 minutes is huge in terms of sewing the film up and I think so much is revealed in such a little amount of time. I would have preferred Marty to have taken the slow-burning route which had served him so well in the first two hours of the movie. I get that he switched it up to offer another dimension to the film but personally I felt cheated, hence this film only getting four stars out of me.
On the whole, it’s a great addition to Scorsese’s canon. It’s not at the Goodfellas, Raging Bull or Taxi Driver level – but it’s certainly worthy of its critical acclaim. Perhaps Martin has spoilt us with his gangster movies in the past and now he cannot top them, maybe that is why he hasn’t gone back to this genre since this offering. I get the feeling he picked up his Oscar and then he can move onto different things like Hugo and Wolf of Wall Street. Either way, he is still my number one.
Cineroom’s Rating: 4 Stars
The Departed is now available on DVD worldwide – Certificate 18.