Director Martin Scorsese's striking remake of the popular Hong Kong film "Infernal Affairs", "The Departed" follows Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), two kids who grew up on the rough streets of Boston, and find themselves in the ranks of the Boston police department, only for two different reasons: Sullivan has entered the force in order to extract information for Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson, in top form as the villain), a local mob boss. Meanwhile, Costigan has worked his way into Costello's ranks, going undercover to get information for the cops. Meanwhile, neither are aware that they are working each side.
Of course, it doesn't take long for the two sides to realize that there's a mole, and the walls start to close in. Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and his colleague, Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) realize they have a mole in their ranks and Costello turns to Sullivan to find out who has found their way into his world.
Scorsese does a masterful job building momentum and urgency as the two desperately try to keep their cover. While "The Departed" may be 150 minutes and change, the film feels as if it's about half that as the tension remains high throughout as Scorese's ability to keep audiences guessing as to the character's loyalties and whether they'll manage to make it through to the next morning is exceptional.
Scorsese has rounded up a tremendous cast and - no surprise - there's not one bad performance in the bunch. Damon and Dicaprio are the leads and carry the picture nicely, with Dicaprio's character consistently in crisis mode, running to remain one step ahead of everyone else. Damon's performance is also impressive, portraying a character that's cold and calm - moving the chess pieces around the board. Nicholson is brilliant as the mob boss who seems to be constantly simmering - it's an intense, intimidating performance that has moments of horror and dark humor. Sheen, Whalberg, Alec Baldwin and Vera Farmiga (as the woman that comes between the Dicaprio and Damon characters) all give excellent supporting efforts.
"The Departed" also sees continued assistance from Scrosese's frequent collaborators, such as ace editor Thelma Schoonmaker, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, casting director Ellen Lewis, costume designer Sandy Powell and others. The screenplay by William Monaghan is phenomenal, with memorable dialogue, well-developed characters (and everyone has their moment to shine) and a compelling tale.
"The Departed" is Scorsese's best since "Goodfellas" and it's another Oscar-worthy effort. Scorsese is nominated, as is Whalberg and Schoonmaker, but Damon and Nicholson should have been up, as well (DiCaprio is nominated for "Blood Diamond".) The film is also nominated for "Best Picture", as well.
VIDEO: "The Departed" is presented by Warner Brothers in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This is an excellent transfer, although it does show a few minor issues at times. Sharpness and detail were mostly terrific, although a few shots did seem a tad soft on occasion. As for faults, some mild edge enhancement was spotted at times and a couple of traces of artifacting were briefly seen. The elements used were in tip-top shape, with no dirt, specks or other faults. Colors looked bold and well-saturated, with nice saturation and no smearing. Black level also remained solid throughout.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was excellent. While the audio was dialogue-driven throughout much of the movie, the surrounds certainly ramped up when called upon, such as during the film's intense shoot-out sequences. The score sounded rich and full, and Scorsese's usual soundtrack of classic tunes sounded terrific. Dialogue remained crisp and clear throughout, with no distortion or other issues.
EXTRAS: The trailer. There is a 2-DVD edition with a disc of bonus features.
Final Thoughts: "The Departed" is Scorsese's best since "Goodfellas" and it's another Oscar-worthy effort. Offering up an intese, compelling story and stellar performances, this is certainly one of the year's top films. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, but nearly no extras (for that, you'll have to get the Special Edition.)
The Film A