After a string of "Please give me my Oscar now!" movies from Martin Scorsese (The Aviator, Gangs of New York), Martin Scorsese returns to his roots with The Departed. This seems like a no-brainer as most of his classics revolved around the mob; Goodfellas, Mean Streets, Casino and Taxi Driver to name a few. Now, this movie probably didn't deserve all the Oscars that it got, but the voters felt bad for not giving the Oscar to Scorsese for all the films he has directed that deserved to win, but didn't. I remember discovering how amazing his films were in high school when I watched Goodfellas, I continued to try to get my hands on whatever other movies he directed; Raging Bull and Taxi Driver soon followed. I don't like all of his movies, (especially his Oscar-bait movies The Aviator and Gangs of New York which were good, but not really comparable to his classics), but he has remained one of my all-time favorite directors.
Now on to this particular movie:
What I liked: Martin Scorsese started the whole "jukebox" soundtrack (using popular music on his mob movie debut Mean Streets). He continues what he started here to a really good effect, which is my roundabout way of saying I really liked the soundtrack. When you're someone like Martin Scorsese, you can afford all the good actors to come and play with you. Matt Damon plays against type really well here, and this is the movie that has clinched my being able to enjoy a Leonardo DiCaprio movie (Catch Me if You Can made inroads, but he was still the teen heartthrob from Titanic until this movie). Jack Nicholson plays, for all intents and purposes, the devil, and is really fun to watch. Mark Wahlberg, Vera Farmiga, and supporting roles by Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen all round out the cast. I really could have gone on about the acting--it really was amazing. If you can handle the swearing, the script is top notch. I have a feeling that the only words that come out of Bostonians' mouths are profanities.
What I didn't like: There were some moments in the movie that I could tell were completely improvised. Normally I wouldn't mind it so much, but it was just a little bit random. And every once and awhile the language got to me, but at this point I'm pretty desensitized. I guess that's it; I really do like this movie.
If you liked this movie and are wondering what you can watch that is even better than this, try Taxi Driver or Goodfellas, and of course the best mob movie of all time, The Godfather. If mob movies aren't your thing, that's fine. I just don't have a comparable movie to recommend for you.
"A Good Cast is Worth Repeating"
Leonardo DiCaprio: If you haven't already, go see him in Inception. Catch Me if You Can was good too, but if you want some more Boston accented Leo see Shutter Island.
Matt Damon: The Bourne Trilogy, The Informant! If you liked him playing rugby, you're in luck! He stars as a rugby player in Invictus.
Vera Farmiga: I don't know if I can forgive her character in The Departed for what she did in Up in the Air. Watch this movie if you're confused by what I just said.
Jack Nicholson: Batman, Chinatown, and the shot in Omaha Nebraska film, About Schmidt.
Mark Wahlberg: He has been in some enjoyable movies, but this is the role of his life. Have fun with him in The Italian Job.
Oh yeah, before I forget, this movie was based on the Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs. Now while I'm not for every remake, this one worked very, very well. I guess if you get enough talented people behind a project, you can get away with a remake-- but don't push your luck (looking at you, Gus van Sant's Psycho). There weren't a lot of differences between the two apart from setting. The biggest difference is that they merged the female characters from the original into one character in the remake. It works out for a better story, trust me. Then there were the small differences in the ending that I can't get into without spoiling the entire thing. They really weren't too big though.
Next movie I will watch in theaters of my own free will: Scott Pilgrim vs The World.
Look for my signal...