The organized crime film genre has added a new member to its brimming arsenal with the release of The Departed, a story of two undercover cops hurdling down vastly different paths, yet destined to collide. Directed by mob guru Martin Scorsese, whose fame has spawned from such films as, Goodfellas, Gangs of New York, and Mean Streets, the movie is based loosely on the 2002 Chinese film Infernal Affairs.

Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) knows nothing else but what the mob has taught him. Raised under the watchful eye of Boston’s most ruthless crime boss, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), Sullivan has been strategically placed in the police academy for the sole purpose that he becomes a cop, a cop whose sole purpose is to be an informant to Costello and his cronies.

Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), contrastingly, can’t get Costello out of his shadows. Costigan is determined to serve his community, but his family’s entanglement with Costello’s gang puts his loyalty in question. Although he is denied the right to serve as a policeman, Costigan is offered an interesting job offer: infiltrate Costello’s inner circle and serve as an informant to the Massachusetts State Police Department.

As Sullivan moves up the ladder at police headquarters and Costigan in the murderous world of organized crime, the stakes begin to rise. Soon, after Costello inexplicably evades police raids on several different occasions, it becomes clear to the police they have a mole within the organized crime unit. And soon thereafter, Costello becomes convinced he has a mole within his organization as well.

Of course, in both cases the organizations are correct. Paranoia balloons out of control as Costigan and Sullivan scramble to cover their own trails and race to find the other’s identity, all of it leading to an inevitably climactic and bloody encounter.

Laced with testosterone and grit, The Departed is driven by a fascinating script, brilliant character performances, and Scorsese’s signature shock-and-awe violence. It is thoroughly gripping from beginning to end, taking moviegoers on a tell-all look into not only the corrupt, gut-wrenching world of organized crime in Boston but also into the pits of human depravity.

The cast is loaded with famous names, and this time they deliver. Jack Nicholson is brilliant as the slightly insane, incredibly vicious crime lord. His brutality is at times unfathomable, but perhaps even more disturbing is his callousness to his line of work. Numerous scenes depict innocent bystanders pleading for their lives. Costello’s reaction? He cracks a joke. Then he shoots them. His heartless, nonchalant behavior is both chilling and mesmerizing.

While DiCaprio and Damon both give terrific performances, it’s the supporting roles that round off one of the best casts in years. Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg come off perfectly as the perfect good-cop-bad-cop tandem. Both play high-ranking department heads, Sheen being the low-key, level-headed coordinator and Wahlberg the vulgar, intimidating, head case. Both end up serving critical roles to the plot, despite their relatively short appearances. Wahlberg also unexpectedly appears in the final scene, finishing off the blood-letting in shocking fashion, adding a satisfying sense of closure.

The script is also refreshingly different. It weaves the ironic lives of two men struggling to survive in the hazardous world of undercover police work. Its extended and effective climax ends abruptly and surprisingly, and just when moviegoers think the end is upon them, Scorsese proves he has one more cleverly symbolic trick up his sleeve. The film is horrifyingly violent yes, but the occasional interjection of tickling one-liners add some comic relief to an otherwise morbid plot.


The Departed is a thinking person’s crime thriller, a movie intentionally multi-dimensional and chalk-full of eye-popping twists and turns at every bend. Its rowdy, soul-less attitude may be dissatisfying to some viewers, but as a film, it is murderous fun. 5 stars.

The Waynedale News Staff

Dillon Kimmel

Our in-house staff works with community members and our local writers to find, write and edit the latest and most interesting news-worthy stories. We are your free community newspaper, boasting positive, family friendly and unique news. > Read More Information About Us > More Articles Written By Our Staff