It’s been several years since anyone has mentioned Martin Scorsese in the same breath as Oscar. Yeah he was up for it with “The Aviator” in 2004 and “Gangs of New York” in 2003, but those snore fests were only nominated because everything else in the theaters sucked ostrich dick. This man gave us movies like “Taxi Driver,” “Raging Bull” and of course “Goodfellas.” Ain’t seen any of them? Get a clue and get them in your Netflix queue. The Departed promises us simpletons something from his glory days. It doesn’t fail.
Sure the plot is a bit clichéd (good cop infiltrates mob, bad cop infiltrates FBI), but this movie definitely sets itself apart from any of the similar flicks. How? Simple. Careful storytelling, well shot scenes and impeccable casting. Let’s take a peek at each of these.
The story of The Departed may be something we’ve heard and seen before, but in this incarnation Scorsese carefully plots the back story and builds up the tension in a very methodical manner — just like squeezing out a well-fed shit. Although there a few plot holes force fed upon us (gangster knows there is a rat in his gang and doesn’t kill off the newest gang members?, cops know a mole is in the department yet don’t even think of checking mobile phone records?), I didn’t really mind. I was more entranced with the fine lines both moles had to walk — the moral complications, the fear of death and discovery and the hope to be accepted by a loved one under false pretenses. All of this is rolled successfully up into a well dialogued movie. This is coupled with an old school way of film making. Nothing is filmed too brightly. Scorsese prefers to keep things on a darker level — which adds mystery and mystique and forces the viewer to pay closer attention to the on screen action. A great deal of attention is spent focusing on the actors expressions; great nonverbal communication going on here.
Most notable however is the casting. The Departed has quite the cast. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily piss on him if he were on fire, Leonardo DiCaprio plays a very believable kid thrust into something well above his head. Matt Damon, who hasn’t done anything of worth since Good Will Hunting, shines as a man deeply troubled by his situation. And of course how could I forget Jack Nicholson who plays — you guessed it, the part he was meant to play — a fucking pompous, asshole gangster. Rounding out the cast are notables like Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin. Kudos to the casting directors.
Now that the suckfest is over let me piss upon The Departed‘s legs just a bit. As mentioned before there are a few moments where you are expected to throw common sense and Detective Work 101 out the door. The strong performances help to cover up these moments, but nonetheless, they’re there (and the more I think about them the more aggrevated I become). The biggest drawback is the movie is 152 minutes long. That’s 2 1/2 hours, folks. That’s a long fucking time to sit in an uncomfortable seat eating Raisenettes. Clearly, some of the cinematics could have been cut without detriment to the film.
All said, Scorsese has another hit on his hands. The Departed delivers on his vision, and you will not be disappointed with his latest offering — even if your ass becomes numb after sitting for the extended period of time needed to watch it.