I only have one word for 'The Departed' YES!

The Departed (2006) - IMDbStory

In an attempt to take down the Irish mob, the Boston PD send one of their own, undercover to infiltrate Francis "Frank" Costello (Jack Nicholson). Unbeknownst to them, Costello has a mole of his own. The undercover cop and mole then attempt to discover each other's identities before they're found out.

The story is more intricate than it seems, it's like a never-ending cycle. Even though you learn the major players in the first 30 minutes, the story is written to convey as much tension and drama as possible, and the movie delivers. As the story unfolds the pieces seem to be moving closer together while simultaneously moving apart and because of that it keeps you guessing.


This film has a phenomenal cast, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin. It also has some great performances but you expect nothing less from the actors in this movie.

Jack Nicholson plays Frank Costello and is absolutely terrifying in this movie, he also has really captivating screen presence. You never know what he's going to do and because of that, your eyes are glued to him regardless of what scene he's in.  He's also charming in a very twisted way. You know that he's not a good person but there are aspects of his character that are admirable. (A paradox in and of itself)

Leonardo DiCaprio shows why he's one of the most respected actors working today. What makes this such a good performance is how subtle it is. A lot of the performance consists of face acting. He's able to convey a range of emotions through his eyes alone. He described his character as "someone who is having a constant, 24-panic attack" and that's an accurate description. You believe that he's in these scenarios and you spend a lot of the film worried about him.

Matt Damon is able to balance is role very well. He's able to come across as charming but not overbearing, intense but not completely ruthless, which is difficult. Even though you may not agree with what he does, you can see what motivates him.

Mark Wahlberg's performance is one of my favourites because it's so exaggerated compared to everyone else and even though I would usually count that as a negative, it makes the movie funnier. He isn't necessarily a comedic character but it's a decent description.

Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin and even Mark Wahlberg are very much secondary characters, but that doesn't diminish their performances or their worth. They're entertaining and manage to distinguish themselves from the rest of the cast. Anthony Anderson is also in this movie, but it's more of a glorified cameo.


There is also a sense of realism in this film, and that comes from the writing which is solid. The characters are real, flawed people. You see them make numerous mistakes throughout the film and even though you never like them, it makes them more endearing. You see that they're in complex situations and you understand some of the decisions that they have to make. The beauty of a film like this is that there is no true antagonist, it's a matter of perspective.

One of the main themes in this movie is identity, what it means to have one and how that can influence one's decisions. There's a line about identity towards the end of the film and without giving anything away, I thought about my own identity and what that meant to me after I heard that line.

Pretty much any film directed by Martin Scorsese has good direction and in this film, he uses technique coined by CineFix called 'pulling a Hitchcock'. He shows you the metaphorical bomb under the table and lets you sweat and that's what Scorsese does here. You never really know what is about to happen and that leaves you with a sense of unease throughout the movie.

Set Design

A lot of the movie was shot in and around in New York, for budgetary reasons but it never feels like you're in a different city. However, some scenes were shot in and around Massachusetts which lends itself to the authenticity of the film.


I tend to look at the score/soundtrack as another character, but here it's not the focus of the movie. In all honesty, I wasn't paying much attention to it. I was more focused on the story, and the movie doesn't emphasise the score all that much. It never really slows down enough for you to enjoy it.

Overall Thoughts

It took me a while to watch this movie, I had heard from friends how good it was. I knew I wanted to watch it but it all came down to timing. After finally watching it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and it's joining my list of favourite films. This is a very good movie, as evidenced by its 4 Oscar wins. It's one of those films that can only really end one of two ways and even though I wouldn't call it an emotional rollercoaster, you're kept on the edge of your seat throughout. I now understand why the American Film Institute nominated this film for its 'Top 10 Gangster Film' list in 2008.

That being said, it's not a very rewatchable movie. It's best watched once in a while because it relies heavily on tension and you not knowing what is going on or how the story is going to turn out.
Does that mean I'll never watch it again? No. I just have to wait a while.