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"The Departed"

Directed by Martin Scorsese.
Written by William Monahan.  Based on the film "Infernal Affairs", written by Siu Fai Mak and Felix Chong.
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Vera Farmiga and Jack Nicholson.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  10/3/06


"The Departed" is set in Boston, Massachusetts...and, Boston is the ONLY thing I didn't like about this movie.

Good in nearly every way, "The Departed"--based on the 2002 Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs", with Andy Lau and Tony Leung--is just as good as the original for vastly different reasons that you pick up once you have seen the HK version of the storyline.  The story is, of course, the reason that we ripped this off in the first place--a cop with few prospects of doing well in the Massachusetts State Police department, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is recruited by the head of the undercover unit, Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen), to join the gang of the most ruthless crime lord in South Boston, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson).  That's all well and good, except for one thing--a cop that came through the ranks to the MSP at the same time as Billy, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), was basically raised by Frank while growing up and had only joined the cops in the first place to make sure the cops never catch up to Frank's dirty dealings.  Eventually, Billy and Colin realize that someone is on their tail...what they DON'T know is that each one is chasing the other.

Through the course of 150 fairly tense minutes, director Martin Scorsese does a great job of showing us both sides of the equation, as gloriously profane and as gratuitously violent as any flick this year.  With a cast this loaded, the strong acting part is a cinch--in addition to everyone above, you get Vera Farmiga as the love interest (she was the best thing about "Running Scared" earlier this year), Mark Wahlberg as the other member of the undercover unit, Alec Baldwin as another lead cop, Ray Winstone (the brute Brit from "Sexy Beast"), Anthony Anderson...shit, you even get the guy that played Chase from "24" a few seasons ago!  DiCaprio and Damon are great as the leads, although I think I remember Lau in the Damon part being much stronger as a believable cop but the charm of both guys works in their respective movies.  (Brad Pitt was going to be in this film when it first snapped up, but he is only listed as a producer now.)  Nicholson is a ham, but a tough ham, one that gets many of the film's best lines but also looks like he might really lead a team of toughs on various missions around the city.

"Infernal Affairs" is not that bloody; "The Departed"--REALLY bloody, thanks to a lot of people getting it all movie long.  (And that ending--whoa!!)  This and the trademark Scorsese profanity means that you get a steady dose of the words cocksucker, cunt, fuckin' rat (and the lovely variety of fuck iterations) all movie long.  You might actually feel exhausted when you leave the theater after this one from the sheer volume of profanity; much like "Goodfellas", "Casino" or any other classic Scorsese flick, colorful language just sounds better in his films.

But here's the big surprise with "The Departed"--the acting, atmosphere, story and soundtrack all work, but the script is also very, very funny throughout.  Baldwin, Wahlberg and Nicholson have most of the funny lines in this film but I was very impressed with how well the laughs are built into the script; you never go too long without a laugh interspersed between the bodybags.  Once you add this in, we're talking about a guaranteed top-five finish for "The Departed" when the dust settles.  Much like "Little Miss Sunshine", "The Departed" is maybe the only other film I have seen this year that is a 100% guarantee to not disappoint.  Like, if you were to say to me

"Yeah, that 'Little Miss Sunshine', I didn't like that at all"

it would pretty much guarantee that you are a Nazi.  Same goes for "The Departed", so check this one out when it opens this weekend.  Our packed-house audience tonight gave it mad love when the credits started to roll.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09