Sunday, October 08, 2006

Film Review: The Departed

One of the best films that I have seen this year, Martin Scorcese's The Departed treads familiar territory with mobsters, cops and betrayal. It's an adaptation of the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs.

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Jack Nicholson is his usual funny and twisted self as the mobster boss Costello, while Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio put in strong performances as a rising detective (Colin Sullivan) and a deep undercover cop (Billy Costigan.) Alec Baldwin is police chief Ellerby and has some of the funniest dialogue. Damon already proved his credibility as a quality actor to me, but it was nice to see Leo step up to the plate. Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen are given good support roles, but this is clearly the Jack/Matt and Leo show. Watch for the scene where Costello and Costigan are discussing the apparent mole in the organization and Costello begins to impersonate the rodent...the audience will be in stitches. You almost get the feeling that Nicholson was playing himself with his constant foul-mouthed, smart-ass lines.

The mobster boss grooms a young boy to get into the police force to be a mole. The moles (Sullivan) rises quickly through the ranks and has his own special team for investigating crime. Meanwhile, a rookie cop (Costignan) with lots of shady family connections, is given a deep cover assignment, meant to be the police's mole on the inside of the mobster's organization. The two graduated from the academy on the same day but they never knew each other. There are shades of No Way Out, the Kevin Costner thriller, in this film.

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There are plenty of guns, blood and swearing in this tight thriller. Just when you think the gig is up for either mole, the plot twists again. The film didn't end when I thought it would, which means I was glued to the screen to see how the complex but but succint plot would resolve itself. Scorcese has another winner on his hands. I won't be surprised if there's Oscar talk surrounding this film for best director, best screenplay, and best supporting actor for Jack Nicholson. I'm not sure if and how Matt Damon and Leo would be recognized for their performances. Both played key roles but neither was dominant over the role and neither roles screams best actor nomination to me.

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