‘The Departed’ dazzles audiences

by Josh Boris

Go see this movie. Plain and simple: Just do it.

Martin Scorcese has been an excellent contributor to the film industry for over 30 years. While his last several films (“Gangs of New York” and “The Aviator”) were met with pretty good reviews, they were a departure from his earlier films expounding fast talking gangsters and criminal delinquency. The “Departed” is a return to form, and you could say Scorcese has found his home again, although in Boston rather than his trademark New York.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon lead a star-studded cast as two young police recruits who take drastic turns in their career path. Colin Sullivan (Damon) is a bright, talented detective who quickly rises through the ranks to become head of the Special Investigations unit. However, there’s one catch: He’s been groomed from a young age to join the police department as the special informant for crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson).

Meanwhile, Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) turns to the police force to try to escape the criminal past of his relatives. He is immediately placed in jail in order to establish himself as a felon so that he can infiltrate Costello’s criminal organization. As the rat in Costello’s organization tries to gather evidence to take him down, the mole in the police department feeds Costello information so that he’s one step ahead of the police. When Costigan realizes there’s a mole and Sullivan realizes there’s a rat, it becomes a race to expose the other before each is found out.

Seriously, this movie does everything right. Like “Goodfellas” it has that entertaining mix of ridiculous violence and offbeat humor (as a warning, if violence and racist and sexist humor aren’t your thing, that could be a problem). Alec Baldwin as an arrogant police chief and Mark Wahlberg as a caustic detective are superbly hilarious in their straight talking indifference to political correctness and other people’s feelings. Scorcese is excellent at tightening the screws bit by bit to ratchet up the tension slowly throughout the movie; I was so engaged that this two and a half hour long movie never dragged or seemed overly long. While the film works well overall, it’s the little details that make the picture, from the tension-filled use of cell phones to the subtle reminders of the intertwined destinies of Sullivan and Costigan.

Usually I take this space to write about what I didn’t like about the movie, but I enjoyed this movie so much that I’m just going to skip that step entirely.

Bottom line is, as the Oscar contenders begin to appear en masse, this is the first that I will guarantee will win at least one, if not several. If this movie doesn’t win any Oscars, I’ll eat this review. Not to beat a dead horse, but if you’re a film fan at all you should see this movie. It is totally amazing.