|Starring: Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Rated: Rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, some strong sexual content and drug material.
Review Posted: 11/9/06
I’ve actually gotten quite a few emails lately asking me what happened to all those reviews on Box Office Boredom? The multitude of emails that have asked me “Where those reviews?” have grown ten fold in the last few months. Even more shocking, it should be noted, that they didn’t come from our one and only fan, The Mike’s Mom (unless she has created multiple personalities). The answer to where are the reviews is quite simple. I do still see movies, but my inspiration to writing about them had actually decreased. Critics and movie fans nationwide are making comments such as, “There are no good movies being made anymore.” and phrases like Hollywood slump are becoming a more prevalent taste that is developing in everyone’s mouths. Over the course of the last few months, I am guilty of fueling this trend as well, and had to take a little time off as a way to recharge my cinematic batteries. I found myself delving into films of cinema past, and found myself re-viewing some of the cinema greats like Hitchcock’s Rebbecca, Rear Window and revisiting some more contemporary classics such as The Godfather, Scarface, The Deer Hunter and Taxi Driver. Revitalizing my faith in movies by looking back at some of Hollywood greats gave me the urge to actually WANT to write reviews again. But when you’ve been taking a month off and with an average of 5 major release movies hit theaters each week, the bigger question is what in the world do I really want to review?
I realized in my sabbatical from theatrical releases, one of the directors that I found myself coming back to each and every week was Martin Scorsese. I felt that it was just shy of a sign from God that I should be reviewing the latest Scorsese attempt, The Departed. As I did my pre-movie homework for the film, I was surprised to notice that Scorsese was actually remaking a Asian film called Internal Affairs. While I am leery of remakes, especially one like Infernal Affairs that has received some decent critical acclaim in it’s niche market, I had to admit that I was extremely curious what a director like Martin Scorsese thought that he could bring to the table to make this film worthy of a remake.
What I was surprised to see was that Scorsese proved he is still on top of his game when it comes to movie making. The man has been in the business for well over 30 years, and arguably one of the greatest crime drama directors ever to grace the silver screen. In his new film, The Departed, he weaves an intricate tale of cops and robbers, good guys and bad guys and life and death on some of the meanest streets in Boston. As a viewer he introduces you to an undercover cop. Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), who is sent deep undercover to investigate Irish mob man, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) and expose the police department leak that may be helping Frank stay on top. What unfolds is a mind game between the good and the bad with Billy stuck somewhere in between. Rest assured Scorsese fans, Scorsese scores again with this film. It’s very well directed, and his attention to detail and the care he puts into expressing characters emotions are crafted in a way that only he could do. Those famed trademark shots are riddled through out the film, and it has all the makings of a modern day Goodfellas.
Where this movie succeeds most is in the acting department. Leo DiCaprio has yet another hit with The Departed, and as an actor I’m starting to think the guy can do no wrong (Yes, I am forgetting “The Beach” ever existed). The teen hearth throb is all grown up and is gracefully walking into big budget pictures and holding his own against some of the tried and true Hollywood greats, like his co-star Jack Nicholson. The aging Nicholson still does what he does best, play Jack Nicholson. Jack commands your attention when he is on the screen, and as a viewer, you don’t feel obliged to not give it to him. Films like this prove that Nicholson isn’t ready to sit on the sidelines and play the run of the mill grandfather character just yet. Also staring in the film is Boston Boy and Ben Affleck “Buddy”, Matt Damon, who is once again proving that he can be a force to be reckoned with in Hollywood as well. Damon is able to near perfectly pull of the character of the guy everyone loves to hate, and it works very well in this film.
The small bit parts of side actors really add to this film’s over all success though. While only taking up minutes of screen time, actors like Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin find ways of adding comic relief in their down to business, fast talking, friendly and yet hostile comments that had me in near tears (of laughter) after hearing. So much of what they say goes right over your heads, especially the Baldwin character. Somehow (and I am still not sure how) I am pretty sure Baldwin asked someone a question, answered it for them, proceeded to the next question and then answered that for them all in the span of one 5 second breath of air. It’s one of the best scenes in the film, and in my opinion was worth the admission price for that alone.
In a discussion of Scorsese films, I am normally the first to admit his films suffer from what I call “The Scorsese Drag,”or a section of the film that is relevant but just drones on and on adding an extra 20 minutes to the film. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t find that drag in this film, which is near amazing to me. The story flowed very fluidly from one scene to the next and it kept me going right up to the very end.
When it gets right down to it, The Departed will be on the year end best list for me and probably many other critics best of the year lists as well. I’m willing to bet the academy will be recognizing Scorsese with an Oscar for the film as well. (But then again they do kind of owe it to him after gypping him for so many years.) This is finally the year for the man I think, and why not? The Academy couldn’t pick a better film to recognize him for. It’s right on par with some of his other greats, and may be the one film that can convince movie goers that movies are still good! Don’t believe me? Go check out The Departed for yourself and restore your faith in Hollywood.