Martin Scorsese, who has directed such features as ‘Mean Streets,’ ‘Taxi Driver,’ and ‘Raging Bull,’ is back with another stylish and provocative movie, ‘The Departed.’Although he stays with his usual theme of gangsters, cops and corruption, he doesn’t bring us another been-there-done-that storyline. The lighting to create the atmosphere and the story to get us engaged is not completely original, (these days it’s pretty much impossible to do something original) but it does stay interesting with twists that the characters churn out from behind their backs.
Here’s the story behind ‘The Departed:’ In South Boston, where the Irish mafia is the king of the crime, its leader, Costello (Jack Nicholson), recruits a new member of his gang at a very young age.
When the boy, Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon), gets older he joins the police force and quickly climbs the ladder to be the eyes and ears in the police for Costello. At the same time, Billy Costigan, (Leonardo Dicaprio), an undercover cop, joins the force as well and is put on an assignment to take down Costello and his gang.
To do so he joins the Irish crew of criminals. While both men are serving their jobs, they have to live double lives and take each other down, without getting caught.
What I found interesting about this storyline is that Collin Sullivan is brought up by Costello’s guidance and further helps him to keep his gang strong by being a mole in the police force, while at the same time keep an ordinary life so no one suspects him.
That guy must have been one busy bee! While watching the story unfold, you are really not to sure who to dislike and who to like. At times I felt Billy was the good guy, but then at other times it seemed like Collin was.
The good and bad sides of both characters are shown so this flip-flop of who is good and who is bad gets tossed around from time to time. This is a good sign of a well-crafted story because the writer takes the time to show that these criminals and police officers have their good side and bad side. Another movie that does this is King of New York, with Christopher Walken.
A highlight of this film, which was being discussed throughout the film making circuit, is the lighting. Martin Scorsese wanted this movie to be a modern film noir. To do so, he had striking shadows and streaks of light in the background and on the actors. This was one of the big highlights of a noir film particularly in the 1940’s.
Scorsese definitely did have shadows that looked like they were coming through windows or cracks in the walls, but we all know that you can’t have true film noir in color. It’s practically impossible. The reason being is that the literal translation of film noir is black film. If Scorsese had this film in black and white, it would be more like the film noir movies of the 1940’s (Maltese Falcon, The Stranger).
To wrap it up, The Departed is a very good movie, not Scorsese’s best, but still a very good movie. He serves a story to keep you hooked on and believable acting, exciting action and creative storytelling to keep you entertained.
If you’re a crime/thriller/drama fan (all or just one of the genres will do just fine) then go see The Departed, I promise that you won’t be disillusioned.