Has there ever been a cast this strong? Leo in the prime of his young career. Matt riding the Bourne success. Jack capping off years of stardom. And put the leads aside, take a look at the supporting cast, and the talent level doesn’t really drop off. Mark Wahlberg as the dick-head police sergeant. Martin Sheen as the heart of the force. Alec Baldwin as the suit who will kick your ass. Vera Farmiga as the sexy, vulnerable psychologist. Ray Winstone, David O’Hara, & Mark Rolston as the trio of loyal thugs. Every role perfect, every character developed, every line thought out, every actor invested 100%. It’s a director’s dream; no wonder Martin Scorsese won his first Oscar for this film. At the Academy Awards, The Departed won Best Director, Best Editing, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture. What’s more, they were all precisely deserved.
In South Boston there is constant war, a battle for control of the streets between two unswerving enemies; the Irish Mob and the State Police. The leader of the mafia is Frank Costello, a man at the end of his years but nowhere near the end of his desire for power. Frank recruited young Colin Sullivan when he was a boy, raising him as a near-son, teaching him to live by lying. Sullivan is now a State Detective, an informant & a mole, living a double life as he struggles to secure his own future. On the other side of the coin in Billy Costigan, an undercover cop who has infiltrated Costello’s organization. Sullivan keeps Costello out of trouble, Costigan tries to sniff out the rat, and the wheel spins ’round & ’round, with no one knowing when it will stop.
It’s a complicated plot with a huge cast of characters, but put together in a way that screams “masterpiece”. Scorsese was already a legend before this film, after so many dark classics: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, Casino. But not until The Departed did all the pieces of the puzzle fall together. Give credit to the cast, who each brought something personal to their roles and carried each scene as if there would never be more. And give credit to the setting as well. Boston, the accents, the streets, and even the music: The Rolling Stones and Dropkick Murphys. It’s an Irish, street-tough, blood-thirsty, crime-driven, bare-knuckle boxing match of a film that never gives you a break. Be prepared for intense swearing, gore galore, and one of the best mob movies you’re ever likely to see.