Saw Martin Scorsese’s The Departed yesterday. A good movie, definitely among the best in a long while and recommended to all who are not bothered by complex plotting or regularly applied violence.
The Departed is an adaptation of Infernal Affairs, a Hong Kong-crafted thriller from 2002. And while a lot of liberties have been taken with the plot as well as with the casting, it’s still the same story, just told from a Hollywood-adapted slant.
The acting is top class across the three starring men. Jack Nicholson is frighteningly menacing (in a different way than in his previous menace-o-ramas) as the sociopath the irish mob boss. But he is outshone by Leonardo di Caprio in his best performance since the almighty Gilbert Grape. His tortured undercover officer suffers from many mental afflictions brought on by identity crisis after being embedded in the mob. He manages to convey desperation without resorting to over-acting. Matt Damon plays a golden boy cop, whose teflon surface lasts untarnished despite several glaring mistakes. Damon, like the two other leading actors, excels in the role – and the splintering of the character’s confidence is faultless.
The supporting cast is not bad either. Though the roles do suffer from heavy-handed typecasting, none of the characters turns out to be an one-dimensional caricature. Here the first impressions do not lie: Martin Sheen is the jovial old mentor, Mark Wahlberg the angriest cop of a decade, and Alec Baldwin’s Ellerby oozes testosterone with almost every sentence.
The actors have an excellent and complex story within which to lose themselves. Like the original, this is a paranoiac web of lost identities and challenged allegiances – in which the proceedings are regularly turned sideways by displays of graphical violence. So graphic, that I was surprised that this film made it through the certification bureaucracy with an over-15 rating.
The Departed is a long movie, clocking in at a tad over two and a half hours, but it never gets boring. The scenes flow with a carefully calculated pace – a flow that is varied enough to almost allow for the audience to be lulled into a false belief of understanding what is going on. A belief that is firmly shaken several times on a long romp through Boston.
Indeed, it’s the city in which the movie is set, that plays a significant role in setting up the scenery. Both thematically (it’s one of the biggest irish concentrations in the world) as well as visually (scenes are played in surroundings familiar to visitors). And that fact that Boston’s finest folk-punk band is featured on the soundtrack is certainly no demerit to the film.
Watched the film in Tennispalatsi. The ticket queues are still terrible, this week’s excuse is an “upgrade” of the operating system. But even worse than that was the volume in the theatre – it wasn’t the regular gunshots that annoyed the most, but music. The very first bars of Murphys’ I’m Shipping to Boston were eardrum-tingling in volume.
Recommended heavily, and not by your humble narrator alone; both metacritic and imdb agree that this is a movie worth seeing.