|Cast:||Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nihcolson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin|
I never thought I'd see the day a Hollywood remake of an import would win Best Picture. That in no way means The Departed's a bad film - far from it. It's almost impossible for Scorsese, Damon, DiCaprio or Nicholson to make a bad film even on their individual merits. Together the results were going to be nothing short of spectacular. But Best Picture for a cop drama about good and bad moles?
By definition it's not as good as Infernal Affairs because it's a direct copy, no matter how charismatic the performances, blistering the violence or accomplished in the genre the director.
With that rant aside, so to the movie's good points. It's an iron clad (though unoriginal) concept, a good cop (DiCaprio) is removed from the system and sent as a mole into the inner circle of the bad guys, while an up and coming star police performer (Damon) becomes his opposite number, informing for a mob boss (Nicholson) he's always considered family.
The stakes are rarely higher and DiCaprio comes as close as he ever has to his Gilbert Grape days portraying a man unhinged at having no identity, the weight of trusting no one but his two handlers (Sheen and a Wahlberg - seldom as brilliant as he is here) slowly crushing him.
As both men start falling for the same police psychologist (Farmiga), things heat up, and when a big operation threaten to blow covers and make things twice as dangerous for everybody, it's a tinderbox.
A support cast including Winstone as Nicholson's right hand man and Alec Baldwin as a senior cop prop up the star players with great turns of their own, and an ultra-violent, nihilist and shocking ending worthy of Tarantino rounds things out.
Keep the big win in perspective, but you'll still love the movie.