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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Departed

Bloody criminal drama

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 7, 2006 -- “The Departed” is a violent, bloody crime drama set in South Boston. Based on the Hong Kong film “Infernal Affairs,” it is a story of murder, deceit, betrayal and mixed loyalties in an elite undercover unit of the Boston Police Department. Two men are set on a violent collision course with each other early in the film and the tension mounts as they approach their final confrontation.

Leonardo DiCaprio (“Catch Me If You Can”) stars as undercover cop Billy Costigan, who uses his mob connections and his violent temper to get him into the inner circle of Irish mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson of “Something's Gotta Give”). Meanwhile, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon of “The Bourne Identity”), a mole for Costello, is working his way to the upper levels of the Boston Police Department. His job is to tip off Costello every time the police plan a raid on his operation. The two men gradually become aware of the other's existence. Sullivan sets out on a mission to kill Costigan, using the resources of the police department to track him down. Costigan knows that he is being hunted and it is only a matter of time before he is found out. His handlers in the department, (Dignam, played by Mark Wahlberg of “Invincible”, and Oliver Queenan, played by Martin Sheen of “Catch Me If You Can”) however, urge him to stay with Costello until an arrest can be made.

Costigan's position becomes increasingly untenable as the forces close in on him. He seeks comfort in the arms of a pretty psychiatrist, Madolyn (Vera Farmiga of “The Manchurian Candidate”), who turns out to be a pivotal character in the story. Another key role is played by one of the top officers in the police department, Ellerby (Alec Baldwin of “Fun With Dick and Jane”). The police and crooks are headed on a violent collision course and Costigan is caught right in the middle.

The film is crisply directed by one of the all-time greats, Martin Scorcese, who specializes in this genre. The all-star cast is top notch, headed by DiCaprio, who raises his game to a whole new level in this film. Nicholson is sufficiently menacing as the mob boss. He does occasionally mug for the camera, but mostly he behaves himself in this film. Baldwin does some of his finest work here as a sometimes out-of-control officer. Wahlberg and Damon, two Boston boys, provide the most reliable Boston accents and both give outstanding performances as truly memorable characters. The story does go overboard with the double crosses and execution-style murders. Guys you don't notice until the final scenes of the movie suddenly jump out from behind the camera to shoot people. The carnage is substantial and keeps going until the film runs out of sprocket holes.

I had the same reaction to the ending of this film as I did to the original, “Infernal Affairs.” It is just too over-the-top. It doesn't quite work and it isn't really believable, either. Nevertheless, before the story loses its way, it is a great film with wonderful performances. I don't think it is the best film I've seen this year, but I hope it wins a best picture Oscar for Scorcese, he's overdue. This film rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics, theater tickets and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2006 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)