Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson, James Badge Dale, David O'Hara, Mark Rolston, Kevin Corrigan, John Cenatiempo, Armen Garo, Robert Wahlberg, Kristen Dalton, Conor Donovan
In South Boston, the state police force is waging war on Irish American organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). While Billy quickly gains Costello's confidence, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the state police as an informer for the syndicate, is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit.
Remake of the Hong Kong 2002 film Infernal Affairs, The Departed is a brilliant and engaging film, filled with action, suspense and black humour, which offers food for thought on honesty, betrayal, good and evil.
Protagonist of the film is the eternal fight between good and evil, and as happens in real life is not always easy to distinguish one from the other. Actually these two entities are so close that it's almost impossible to see them as two separate notions.
The good, played by Leonardo DiCaprio's Costigan, is dirty outside but clean inside. The evil, on the other side, played by Matt Damon's Sullivan, is capable of living among us well disguised, and knows how to act in the land of lies, and feels at ease. This is what misleads us, human beings, and the reason why we are fascinated by people like Sullivan, and afraid of people like Costigan. I'd say don't judge a book by its cover, but as my literature teacher always said, "Leave the commonplaces to the mass".
Martin Scorsese has left the bloody, gloomy New York for a bold Boston with a great desire to show off his talent, and he wonderfully succeeded. In fact, with a simple plot and almost two hours and a half to fill, he was able to keep the viewer's interest and to keep up the suspense. There is a but though. Those who know Tarantino, and have seen Reservoir Dogs will find many of their elements. The mole, the betrayal, the impossibility to distinguish good from evil, and the Shakespearean finale where everyone dies. About the ending, it didn't really convince me. It feels forced, with the purpose of pleasing the audience and bringing back balance between good and evil.
Screenwriter William Monahan follows the structure of Infernal Affairs, but added lot of depth to the characters, and put down on paper a better dialogue.
The acting is first class. Grown up, hefty but still with a baby face, Leonardo DiCaprio gives a wonderful performance as Billy Costigan. Matt Damon does a great job out of his comfort zone as Sullivan. Devilish Jack Nicholson is huge as usual, and steals the scene, even though he doesn't much in the film. Mark Wahlberg should have had more screen time, but shines between a f**k and another. Great performances also from Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen and Vera Farmiga.
Frank Costello: When you decide to be something, you can be it. That's what they don't tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals. Today, what I'm saying to you is this: when you're facing a loaded gun, what's the difference?