The Departed (2006, Martin Scorsese) – Review

Here at last was Scorsese’s first collaboration with another Hollywood heavyweight, Jack Nicholson. Both the director and the star made quite a splash on American movies during the ‘70s and between them have garnered a huge amount of Academy Award nominations. So does this remake of the excellent Hong Kong thriller, Infernal Affairs, deserve to be up there with the best of their work? Hell yes.

They both play up to what they do best. Scorsese returns to the crime genre that he has made his own in stylish classics, GoodfellasCasino and Mean Streets while Nicholson returns to the deliciously hammy but dangerous villains of The ShiningBatman and Witches of Eastwick.

Nicholson is great, he is a complete scene-stealer as the repulsive, murderous gang leader who rules Little Boston with a heavy hand. However this is an ensemble film and whilst Nicholson chews the scenery with glee, the main thrust of the film comes from the complex story that follows Leonardo DiCaprio’s undercover cop and Matt Damon’s corrupt cop. It’s a preposterous movie style plotline that is played completely stone cold straight and given credibility by the excellent cast and Scorsese’s absolute commitment to the film.

DiCaprio’s current rise to becoming one of Hollywood’s finest actors definitely started around here with this impressive performance as the troubled cop who is constantly having to look over his shoulder. Damon is impressive in a rare villain role and his handsome front covers up his deceit. Meanwhile Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga and Ray Winstone provide excellent support, bristling with energy whenever they are on screen. It’s like every actor has raised their game for Scorsese and they all get moments to shine. It was a surprise that Wahlberg was the only one who managed to snatch a nomination but it is well deserved and he performs with gusto as the hard-edged, take no nonsense and aggressive detective.

Scorsese is now so good at his game that he can completely nail this type of film. It’s an intense film that is full of intense set-pieces, stylish direction, hard-edged violence and of course a killer soundtrack. This was the film that finally got Scorsese the Oscar, whether it be his best film will certainly provoke debate but as I see it, it’s certainly Top 5.

Steart Mclaren







  1. Nice job, Been about a year since I’ve last seen it so I have cast my memory back but I do remember enjoying it. Not his best work but better than Shutter Island and his best work in the last years. Though, I still have to see Hugo, which I will do on Friday.

  2. Yup. Nice selection, great flick. Love it.

    Glad you acknowledge that Nicholson chews scenery here. Not that he hasn’t in other movies, but he’s my least favorite part of this movie. Literally, I prefer every other performance in this film to his …seriously.

    Thankfully every body else brought their A games. Its possibly Damon’s best work, possibly DiCaprios, Wahlberg was unforgettable as Dirk Diggler, but aside from that movie, this is his best…

    And Scorsese was throwing heat here. Great flick. Love it.

    • I need to see Boogie Nights and i definitely think this is Di Caprios best performance, that i’ve seen anyway. For Damon i think Good Will Hunting and this are right up there. I actually really like Matt Damon.

      • Ohhhhh… sweet. I found a recommendation for you then dude! Boogie Nights is a GOOD one. A little intense the first time through, but once you push past that its hysterical. LOVE that one. 😀

  3. The ending of this film is one of the all-time greats, IMHO. I agree with fogsmoviereviews above, I think Nicholson’s the weaker part of this film due to his over-acting the role, while everyone else seemed to be playing it hard-ball straight. That said, even an average performance by him is better than the best from a lot of others.

    great write up mate!

    • On behalf of Stewart, thank you Rodney! I’m contributing to a site he runs and in exchange he’s going to be dropping in the odd review here.

      I can’t disagree with the fact that he over-acts it, but i’m with Stewart on this one, couldn’t take my eyes off him and enjoyed every second he was on screen. Even if the better performances are elsewhere

    • I saw Infernal Affairs a long time ago, so i might not be remembering right, but in my head it was every bit as good as The Departed. I need to watch Infernal Affairs 2 and 3! Wonder if they’ll get remade too at some point.

  4. I’ve been meaning to watch Internal Affairs ever since I saw The Departed for the first time. hmm, if you had to choose Scorsese’s BEST film, what would you pick?

    I wrote a “remake” of The Departed (being a remake itself!) for one of the Hollywood Fantasy Draft Picks at Anomalous Material. It points out some of the things I would change to make The Departed even better IMO. Check it out if you wish: (hope u don’t mind the link)

  5. I’d give it about the same rating, even though I really liked (loved) the movie, with people calling it one of Scorsese’s finest, I have to consider it overrated. Letters from Iwo Jima and United 93 were better IMO!

    Nice work!

  6. Lovely review! Great movie, I especially adored Baldwin and Walhberg – their lines are pure gold. Vera Farmiga was outstanding and the movie is the only one made by Scorsese lately that I consider to be near flawless.

  7. Recently watched Infernal Affairs and can’t believe they managed to make this story that good with 60 mins less runtime. Still, don’t disagree with any praise on this film, and anything above. Think it would be near impossible to ruin a film that looked this good on paper!

  8. Pingback: Internet challenge: Top 10 Movie Directors « Radu presents: The Movie-Photo Blog

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