"The Departed" - Movie Review

Updated on March 4, 2018
Sam Shepards profile image

Hi, I'm Sam, I love movies. My main interest is science fiction and zombie survival movies, but I love classics and various cult pieces too.

When it comes to directors, the most noteworthy and legendary are the ones that utilize iconic trademark elements in each and every one of their films. Michael Bay’s films are bursting with explosions, M. Night Shyamalan tops everything off with twists, Tim Burton is a living garden of gothic delights and Martin Scorsese is really, really…REALLY freaking long winded.

That may come off as more callous and critical than authentic, but no disrespect is meant towards this director, everyone has seen one of his films or talked about them at least once in their lifetime. Scorsese is always buried by mountains of golden awards for literally any movie he does; usually about gangsters, mafia families and making it damn near 4 hours long.

DiCaprio and Nicholson Mob Tension

“The Departed” is an impressively star studded story that drags us back to the same murky world of the mob, betrayal, proving that every philosophical story and artistic frame needs to be topped off with F bombs and bullets. But I’m getting ahead of myself, the story deals with young undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) trying to infiltrate the Irish-American organized crime family in South Boston, which is run by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson).

Another rat by the name of Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon) successfully infiltrates the special investigation unit as an inside man for the mob. Both the police and the mob find out there’s a mole in each side and now the inside men are trying to expose/kill the other information before everyone’s cover is blown and everyone ends up dead.

Just Another Scorsese Crime Drama

As I said before, this is a song Scorsese has sung for audiences many, many…many times before. With the exception of the unbearably bad “Shutter Island,” I can’t recall a single other film he made that didn’t deal with crime bosses, undercover cops/criminals and mafia figures. That’s not to say he does this material injustice, far from it, his masterful handiwork at telling compelling stories and creating shock drama is unrivaled by almost any director.

I have no taste for this particular genre of films; but even I admit he knows how to make a story that will keep you invested for that absurdly long running time. The problem is this is a lot of the same stuff he’s done before. The writing is flawless and the drama is intense no doubt, but it just feels too much like his other films; right down to the predictable outcome for nearly every character.

Eventually you can only be surprised so many times by the turn of events in crime movies that you start to realize it’s the same turn of events, just with different people. Many probably don’t share my opinion, many probably think I’m the lone loon who thinks Scorsese is a tad overrated and his movies all seem to look and sound the same to me after a while.

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Performances and Characters

I will always commend him on the performances he squeezes out of his actors. Nicholson, Damon, DiCaprio, Martin Sheen, Mark Whalberg, everyone is on top of their A game here, everyone delivers truly award winning performances across the board without a single slouch in any actor’s commitment. Even if I find myself feeling seat pains from sitting too long watching one of Scorsese’s films, I always know he’ll get the best out of each and every actor involved.

My issue remains though: this genre plays out the same way every time, every film; no matter who helms it. Outside of the star power of the names, this really feels like the same old crime flick Scorsese sells. Yes it’s beautifully shot, yes the actors are all amazing, and yes it’s a well-made film but it still feels like it’s the same well-made film we’ve seen and expected to see from this director numerous times.

I don’t speak of my thoughts in Martin’s films because I’m generally outnumbered when it comes to those that share my opinions. Even if the odds are against me, I stand by my claim that I do feel this and most of his work is vastly overrated.

Never the less, “The Departed” is an excellent use of quality casting and writing that’s unfortunately landlocked in the same tired old genre and game plan that Scorsese has mapped out for majority of his films. It’s a better film then some directors so-called best efforts, but still, not one I can see re-watching over and over again either.

Movie Details

Title: The Departed

Release Year: 2006

Director(s): Martin Scorsese

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, a.o.

3 stars for The Departed

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