The story of The Departed is based on the 2002 crime thriller out of Hong Kong called Infernal Affairs [review]. Scorsese was quoted as saying, “Infernal Affairs is a very good example of why I love the Hong Kong Cinema. Our film was inspired by Infernal Affairs, because of the nature of the story.” So this is definetely a film that has been inspired by asian cinema to be made for domestic movie goers. The result is nothing short of fantastic.
The Departed is an absolutely fascinating exploration, a mix of all kinds of different genres. This film is an unhappy film following a division of police officers and a gang of criminals. Set in Boston the movie shifts between Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) who is an undercover cop and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) who can probably best be described as an undercover criminal. The two cops at the center of the film are both traitors to their own comrades and as such live with an almost constant, building, pressure.
DiCaprio is excellent as Costigan, a man who life gets more and more dangerous as he gets wrapped up tighter and tighter in the criminal world. While Jack Nicholson is almost universally tops among his Hollywood peers, something about his role as Frank Costello doesn’t impress. The cat and mouse game, as Colin and Billy dig into exposing each other, is the meat of The Departed and is an intelligent, riveting story well acted by Damon and DiCaprio.
Even though I didn’t enjoy Jack’s performance, it was still a fun ride to watch. Watching him cursing with racist glee, enjoying cocaine fueled interracial threesomes, and licking bugs off the palm of his hand, I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. Despite the stated accolades and hesitations about the cast, The Departed is another of Scorsese’s ensemble endeavors that overachieves and definitely satisfies as one of the best examples of filmmaking substance and style today.