“The Departed” is definitely an Oscar contender. Well written, amazingly directly by Martin Scorcese, strong performances by everyone involved – this movie has it all. We first meet mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) as he sets his sites on young Sullivan (Matt Damon’s character) and takes over a father-like role in his life, grooming him to be his “mole” in the police department. Then we meet Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he gets through the police department, despite his family’s mob connections. It’s not long before Sullivan is ingrained as a detective in the department, reporting back to Frank and keeping his operation safe. Then Billy goes under deep cover to infiltrate Frank’s crew and report back to his police chief (Martin Sheen) and a special investigator (Mark Wahlberg). The two have a lot in common, even though they’ve never met. They’re both leading double lives, with a lot of stress. And they both happen to be dating the same woman!
The story is compelling, we care about the characters, and we are kept guessing every step of the way. Leonardo DiCaprio is the best I’ve ever seen him. He makes you cry he’s so good! Jack Nicholson clearly relishes this role, he’s just out there having fun with it, and it shows. Matt Damon has got the smarmy good guy thing down to a science. You love him, but you don’t trust him. He looks innocent, but there’s so much going on just under the surface it’s kind of creepy.
My only criticism about The Departed is that there’s really only one female role in the whole movie. It’s an awesome part – pivotal, dramatic, and expertly played by Vera Farmiga – I don’t remember seeing her in anything else, she’s a fresh face and we’ll be seeing a lot more from her.
Just be aware that this is a hard “R” – lots of violence, blood, bad language – but that’s what you get when you mix cops and the mob, it would be strange it if weren’t that way.