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"The Departed (2-Disc Special Edition)"
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner
Genre: Drama
Release:
2/13/07
Special Features: Deleted scenes with introductions by Martin Scorsese, Feature-length TCM profile "Scorsese on Scorsese", The Story of the Boston Mob: the real-life gangster behind Jack Nicholson's character, Crossing Criminal Cultures: How Little Italy's crime and violence influence Scorsese's work
Review:

It's a tricky business adapting a foreign movie for an American audience. Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" captures all the best elements of the original film "Infernal Affairs" and works traditional Scorsese themes and material into the film making it very much his own and every bit the equal to the Chinese film. Featuring outstanding performances all around perhaps this film will finally earn Scorsese the Oscar for Best Director that he deserved for "Raging Bull" over twenty years ago. ***

Two state trooper academy graduates one an undercover officer named Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and a mole in the department Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) working for crime lord Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson)have opposite goals. Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) charge Costigan with gathering as much dirt as possible on Sullivan so they can finally take him out. They work up a false history for Costigan which includes a brief stint in prison to create credibility. By comparison Sullivan is a boy scout who rises to the top of his department rapidly working for Ellerby (Alec Baldwin)in a rival department. Both are charged with ferriting out the mole in their respective organizations and both are romancing the same woman (Vera Farmiga) without ever meeting. It's a brilliantly constructed game of cat and mouse with each playing the respective role at one point in time. Filled with brilliant visuals that echo the themes of the script adapted by William Monahan ("Kingdom of Heaven")from the script by Siu Fai Mak and Felix Chong the film manages to stay true to the elements that worked best in the Chinese film while incorporating elements unique to "The Departed". DiCaprio and Damon give complex, compelling performances as opposite sides of the same coin. Nicholson plays Costello with psychopathic intensity at times without going too far over the top. The entire cast gives stellar performances but I'd like to note tree actors in particularly who do the most with their limited roles--Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen (who replaced two other actors that had to drop out--Robert DeNiro and Gerard McSorley)and Mark Whalberg all three give intense performances and inhabit their characters fully. Vera Farmiga handles her role of Madolyn equalling the big boys despite the fact that her character isn't given as much screen time by comparison. Special note should also be made of actor Ray Winstone ("The Proposition", "King Arthur" and "Cold Mountain") who gives a nice edgy performance as Mr. French. ---

Image & Sound:

"The Departed" looks marvelous in its presentation here. The film is true to the original theatrical version of the film in terms of color, clarity and sharpness. There is noticeable grain which adds to the grittiness of the film and was evident in the original theatrical version of the film as well. The 5.1 mix makes very nice use of the format. ---

Special Features:

We get a number of worthwhile extras including deleted scenes with introductions by Martin Scorsese. The feature-length TCM profile "Scorsese on Scorsese" appears here and it's a worthwhile extra even if it wasn't produced for the DVD. It provides an intelligent assessment of Scorsese's career. "The Story of the Boston Mob" provides information on the the real-life gangster behind Jack Nicholson's character. When Scorsese and the writer Americanized the film they didn't just "adapt" it for an American audience so much as remade the film into a classic Scorsese project. "Crossing Criminal Cultures" gives us insight into how Little Italy's crime world informs Scorsese's films. It's quite good as well. ***

I am disappointed that the film doesn't come with a feature length commentary by Scorsese although I'm not surprised but given the gift-of-gab that Scorsese has demonstrated, I still would have liked to hear his thoughts on the making of the film. ---

Final Words:

The film runs 2 hours and 22 minutes. Scorsese uses every minute to allow the actors to build their characters or for brilliant set pieces. The film does sag a bit towards the middle but that's partially due to its complex set up for the story during the first twenty minutes of the film. ***

The DVD looks quite good with some terrific extras. Fans of the film would do well to pick up this special edition although I suspect we'll probably be seeing a double dip coming up in the immediate future.

 

 
 
 
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