'The Departed' is set in South Boston, where the state police force is waging war on organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Costello (Jack Nicholson). While Billy is quickly gaining Costello’s confidence, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the police department as an informer for the syndicate, is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit. Each man becomes deeply consumed by his double life, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operations he has penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the gangsters and the police that there’s a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly in danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy – and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save himself.
Based on the cast (Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, to name a few) and the content of the movie (gangland wars in present-day South Boston), this is definitely a guy's movie. However I was caught up in it from the first few moments, when we see crime lord Frank Costello (Nicholson) making money from those weaker than himself, and initiating new members to his gang. Frank starts them out really young, really impressionable, and grooms them to suit his purposes in whatever way he sees fit. He knows greed and ambition when he sees it, even in a boy who hasn't hit puberty yet.
All-American golden boy Colin Sullivan (Damon) comes across as the "good" guy, the one that always lands on his feet and whom everyone respects and admires, yet it's those same qualities that make him so good as a criminal, which is essentially what he is, only he has the police department as his defense for doing the things he does, and it suits his interests. William Costigan (DiCaprio) shares similar physical traits with Sullivan, but his nervous, on-edge behavior and lack of self-confidence land him in the position of becoming a thug in Frank's posse, a situation that Billy reluctantly resigns himself to in order to help capture Frank and make it stick for good. Not surprisingly, the job is not without it's own dangers, and Billy never knows where he stands with the unpredictable and violent Costello.
This movie is on edge, somewhat disturbing, occasionally amusing, violent, and I loved every minute of it. Jack Nicholson is classic Jack, maybe a bit toned down from previous roles, but no less entertaining. I'm not a Matt Damon fan but I admit he plays a rather persuasive bad guy, and I have to respect him for that. And I never truly appreciated Leonardo's talent until this movie. I'd seen him in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" and "A Boy's Life", but this one really opened my eyes to his acting abilities; he's so young-looking yet appears so old and world-weary. And yeah, okay, I developed a bit of a Leo crush, but seriously, he was really good in this movie, and I tried to pinpoint what made him so amazing to watch. I think it's how vulnerable and intense he can be at the same time. You see the fire burning. And there was so much going on all at once, that I felt that after the movie ended, it should have been longer than 2 1/2 hours. I love when a movie does that.
If there's a complaint, it's the female roles, or pointed lack thereof. The women in this movie have been relegated to either the arm candy for Frank, or the supposedly intelligent yet completely in the dark girlfriend for Colin. While romantic situations were not at the forefront of this movie, a portion of the character's personal life is shown through their dealings with these intimate relationships.
Still, I would recommend this movie to anyone who isn't too squeamish and who likes to be on the edge of their seat, unsure of what to expect. It's a great movie: entertaining, absorbing, full of detail and near-misses and heart-stopping moments. It's one of those movies that stays with you for days after you've seen it...or at least a day, since I only saw it yesterday. The point is, I'm still thinking about it, and replaying scenes in my head. And crushing on Leo, which is just plain embarrassing since I remember him from his "Growing Pains" days (I had a crush on Kirk Cameron too). The guy (I have a hard time saying "the man") is a damn fine actor.
So...go see the movie already! I can't promise you'll love it, but I'm fairly confident you won't be bored.
WARNING! Do not read if you don't want to know what happens!
You've been warned!
Okay, it probably won't come as a surprise to you that Colin's and Billy's lives mirror each other so well so that they share even the same woman, a pyschiatrist who works with police officers, which explains how both men end up meeting her. Madelyn (Vera Farmiga) ends up pregnant, but is it Colin's or Billy's baby? She leads us to believe it's Colin's, but how can she be sure? She had the one sexy encounter with Billy, so he could be the one. But alas, poor Maddy will raise her child alone. You figure it out. I'm not going to tell you everything because you might not have seen the movie but maybe you would like to yet you are weak and can't help but read spoilers no matter how many times YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
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Isn't this a great picture? I love it more than the original one