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Hollywood Rewind | Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is a sensational mob drama

Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin appear in short but significant parts. But the film belongs to four men -- Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Jack Nicholson.

Written by Anvita Singh | New Delhi |
Updated: September 9, 2019 5:20:40 pm
leonardo di caprio Leonardo DiCaprio (left), Jack Nicholson (centre) and Matt Damon in The Departed’s poster.

The Departed movie cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Vera Farmiga, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin
The Departed movie director: Martin Scorsese
The Departed movie rating: 4.5 stars

“I am sorry it was necessary,” says Jack Nicholson’s character Frank Costello at one point in the 2006 Martin Scorsese directorial The Departed. This, after he is done ‘investigating’ Leonardo DiCaprio’s Billy Costigan. And by investigating, I mean thoroughly beating the morale and already broken hand of Billy.

Frank Costello is an Irish gangster who is involved in all kinds of shady affairs in Boston. The police is after him, but of course he is too clever for them. Billy is the new recruit in the local police department who is doubling as a small-time criminal to get close to Costello. The aforementioned sequence speaks volume of the kind of distrusting and hardened man Costello is. And when you look at the film, you will also see Nicholson in his quiet and infinitely threatening fashion, dominating the screen. It doesn’t matter that we don’t pay much attention to Leonardo in that scene because that sequence was written for Nicholson to weave his magic. And that he does powerfully enough.

The movie’s story follows two cops both doubling as agents for Frank Costello and the Massachusetts State Police, respectively. While Leonardo is an undercover cop, Matt Damon’s agent Sullivan is an undercover mole bred and planted by Costello in the police. The two have to find out about the other before it gets too late.

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Departed boasts of a cast who knows what is required of them. While Leonardo is convincing as the intelligent and determined Billy Costigan, Matt Damon plays the antagonist perfectly. And we already know what Nicholson is capable of delivering. However, the surprise package comes in the form of Mark Wahlberg, Hollywood’s Salman Khan. As the roguish and rude Sergeant Sean Dignam, Mark demands your attention and you give it to him without any personal prejudice against the man (because I certainly have mine). I guess that is what acting honestly means.

Hollywood Rewind: Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | TangledMeet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles

Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin appear in short but significant parts. But the film belongs to four men — Leonardo, Matt, Mark and Jack.

William Monahan’s writing is strong and so are the performances. It is also a well-edited film, sitting smoothly but intensely at 2.5 hours. This could have been much longer, given the history of American mob dramas; all The Godfather films have a runtime of nearly three hours, with The Godfather II running well over three. As they say, the good ones take some time, but they always come through.

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