I've seen bits of The Departed maybe once or twice, but I've never seen the whole movie until recently. The inkling to see it definitely paid off, as I was treated to a work with growing momentum, great performances and a smashing finale. It wasn't just a good cop, bad cop movie, but the characters had an identity that became their facade for deception, and they were a deceiving bunch indeed.
The film focuses on Colin Sullivan and Billy Costigan, two state cops that came from contrasting backgrounds. Sullivan had a stellar record, and was very commendable and in cases, quite lucky, as he always seemed to nab the right guy, hence his rise in ranks. Costigan, on the other hand, was already at the bad side of the force, coming from a criminal background, which makes him being a cop already dubious. However, these two could have gone farther from the truth. While Costigan is living a quiet life, taking care of his mother and just dutifully being a cop, Sullivan is Frank Costello’s protege, a mole in the system. When a case against Costello opens up, the undercover unit sends in Costigan to infiltrate, while Sullivan uses his resources to get Costello out of trouble. However, both were in a surprise when certain information is revealed, and the two start to play a game of cat and mouse, each digging deeper to find the rat in their respective field.
I found the movie to be smartly written. The characters have enough history to keep you speculating about their motives, as well as using that history and information as an element of the unexpected. Looking back, there were scenes that were complete foreshadowing of what would happen next, or would reveal substantial information about a character. I also found the film a bit lengthy for my taste, but its length paved way for knowing and understanding the motives behind the characters, particularly who they really are and what they really stand for. Usual crime movies don’t really have complex characters, but the two cops were written in such a way that anything could happen, and that their actions were not anticipated.
It boils down to a surprising feat in the end. I did not expect the finale to occur in such a way; it was certainly unexpected and yet a wonderful finish. Scorsese has delivered a fine film with great performances that never loses its feat.
Final Word: Albeit its length, The Departed is more than just a cop film; it launches characters with depth and dimensions, set in a world where the situation is deemed possible. It's highly entertaining, with the finale sure to amaze you.
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Director: Martin Scorsese