Subtlety has never been one of Scorcese's strong suits, and this one's no different. But sometimes subtlety can be a bit overrated, especially in a gangster flick. The action is a volatile cocktail of testosterone, manliness, cussing, and dark humor, all topped off by one of Nicholson's hammiest in-your-face performances ever (his turn in Batman excluded) as South Boston mob boss Frank Costello. The story is not really the star of the show here, nor is the rather anemic atmosphere created by production designer Kristi Zea who earlier collaborated with Scorsese on Goodfellas. What really makes The Departed soar is what Scorsese gets from his stellar cast. One might automatically assume something great from such a star-studded spectacle, but as we learned from this Fall's All The King's Men, in the wrong hands, it can quickly turn to goo.
Matt Damon is Colin Sullivan, a sergeant in the Massachusetts State Police Force assigned to a Special Investigations Unit. But, despite what his superiors and fellow Academy classmates believe, Colin is feeding from the pockets of Costello. As Sullivan's complementary character is Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), a detective who goes deep undercover to infiltrate Costello's world of crime. Costigan and Sullivan don't realize it, but their lives are like two fully primed locomotives running on parallel tracks. But unfortunately for them, and deliciously satisfying for the audience, there's only room for one at the station.
DiCaprio is brilliant as Costigan and manages to hold his own opposite Nicholson's hammy flamboyance. We knew he could do complex characters as was evidenced by his Hughes in last year's Aviator, but there's a new kind of intricacy in his Costigan. He unleashes a wonderful multi-polar versatility we've never seen from him. He moves from wild-assed reckless bravado, to tender lover boy, to vulnerable victim while never becoming unbelievable in any.
Performances by Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg and a pudgy Alec Baldwin as Costigan's superiors in the Boston police department and Vera Farmiga as the love interest of both Costigan and Sullivan, round out what has to be one of the most productive supporting casts in a movie this year. Each follows a complex arc of growth while remaining nearly flawless in execution. We could very well see Oscar nominations from any of these come awards time.
In less adept hands, The Departed's stable of wily actors and complex 2 Â½ hour serpentine script could feel exhausting. But we're talking about a master helmsman here in Scorsese. He not only knows where to put the camera for the best shot, but he's also a master at getting the most from his performers. The question of whether a definitive list of Scorsese pictures will include The Departed has been answered. It's brilliant!
Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; making-of featurette.
* Featurette: -
o Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed - (20:00)
o Scorsese On Scorsese (85:00 with 17 chapters)
o Crossing Criminal Cultures
* Deleted and Extended Scenes (19:00 with 9 clips total)
* Theatrical Trailer - The film's original theatrical trailer.
Number of discs: - 2- Keepcase Packaging
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