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Martin Scorsese
Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin
Writing Credits:
William Monahan, Siu Fai Mak (2002 screenplay, Wu jian dao), Felix Chong (2002 screenplay, Wu jian dao)

Lies. Betrayal. Sacrifice. How far will you take it?

Rookie cop Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) grew up in crime. That makes him the perfect mole, the man on the inside of the mob run by boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). It's his job to win Costello's trust and help his detective handlers (Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen) bring Costello down. Meanwhile, SIU officer Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) has everyone's trust. No one suspects he's Costello's mole.

How these covert lives cross, double-cross and collide is at the ferocious core of the widely acclaimed The Departed. Martin Scorsese directs, guiding a cast for the ages in a visceral tale of crime and consequences. This is a searing, can't-look-away filmmaking: like staring into the eyes of a con - or a cop - with a gun.

Box Office:
$90 million.
Opening Weekend
$26.887 million on 3017 screens.
Domestic Gross
$121.732 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 1.85:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 151 min.
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 2/13/2007

• Trailer
• Previews
• “Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed” Featurette
• “Scorsese on Scorsese” Featurette
• “Crossing Criminal Cultures” Featurette
• Additional Scenes with Introductions By Director Martin Scorsese


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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The Departed: Special Edition (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 7, 2006)

As much as I respect and admire the career of Martin Scorsese, I must admit it’s been awhile since he last produced a truly memorable film. 2004’s The Aviator? Very good – and certainly superior to eventual Oscar-winner Million Dollar Baby - but not anything really strong. 2002’s Gangs of New York? Occasionally impressive but messy and inconsistent.

And so it goes. I think you have to go back to 1990’s GoodFellas to find Scorsese’s last great flick. As I write this in late January 2007, it seems likely 2006’s The Departed will finally earn Scorsese an Oscar, but that doesn’t mean the movie really deserves it.

Departed mostly concentrates on the dual lives of South Boston boys. We meet Colin Sullivan (Conor Donovan) as a preteen. The son of a deceased, well-respected local, Colin gets pulled under the wing of notorious Irish mobster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Costello turns into a surrogate father to Colin, which means it seems odd that as an adult, Colin (Matt Damon) becomes as a state cop. He winds up under Captain Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) in the Special Investigations Unit, a group which – wait for it! – spends much of its time trying to bring down Costello.

In addition, we meet another newly issued Massachusetts officer, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio). He came from a family with many connections to crime as well as a silver spoon element, and he winds up in a secret unit under Capt. Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Staff Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg). They put him in a deep undercover role in which he goes to jail and then lands a job with Costello upon release. This allows him to infiltrate Frank’s operation and inform the authorities about Costello’s dealings. The movie follows the dual existences lived by Billy and Colin as they work on various sides of the law.

While Scorsese has dealt with the criminal element many times in his work, Departed represents a departure for him given its location and characters. Whereas Scorsese traditionally focused on New York Italians, Departed takes the director to the Boston Irish. This lack of personal affinity for place and people shows up during the film, as Scorsese never really seems to connect. He feels enough for them to allow the movie to work acceptably well, but there’s an intangible that remains absent. The flick lacks the easy fluidity of the director’s other crime-related efforts, as he struggles to make his subject matter three-dimensional.

Some have described Departed as feeling like a Scorsese-wannabe created it. I don’t think that’s a fair assessment, though I can see why some greet it that way. Perhaps the problems stem from that lack of personal connection I mentioned, but Departed occasionally seems more like it boasts Scorsese’s stylistic tendencies without the usual heart or impact. I don’t want to imply that the film lacksa power or energy, but it just doesn’t manage the heat and passion of the director’s better work.

In terms of cast, Departed excels. As always, Scorsese recruits a high caliber of talent, and the actors live up to the material. Actually, the support cast overshadows the leads here. Jack Nicholson got a lot of attention for his flamboyant turn as Costello. Nicholson is good in the role, but I can’t say he does anything we’ve not seen in the past. Indeed, I detected a lot of Batman’s Jack Napier here. Anyone who expects real fireworks from the first Nicholson/Scorsese collaboration won’t find remarkable results.

On the other hand, Scorsese does manage to evoke terrific work from the usually drab Mark Wahlberg. I can’t think of a single Wahlberg performance that impressed me; even in the otherwise solid Boogie Nights, we remained the weak link. The flat, wooden Wahlberg never materializes in Departed, though. He injects his role with gusto and fervor and virtually leaps off the screen. This is a Wahlberg who finally demonstrates personality; he deserves his Oscar nomination.

Unfortunately, Alec Baldwin didn’t get a similar nod, but that may because everyone expects this kind of work from him. Baldwin consistently steals the show in the roles he takes, and that goes for his turn here. Baldwin has made a very smooth transition from leading man to character actor; indeed, I think he does better now that he has less pressure on him. Baldwin knocks one out of the part in his limited screen time.

I certainly can’t fault the movie’s complicated story. It balances the various sides of things and gives us a consistently involving tale. At times the flick almost overwhelms us with various plot elements and twists, but it manages to stay more than acceptably clear and concise. The turns maintain our interest and add spark to the proceedings.

I just can’t help but think that a talent like Scorsese should have done more with The Departed. From start to finish, this is a professional, entertaining and involving flick. It simply doesn’t rise to the level of true excellence.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Departed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the transfer looked good.

Only minor issues affected sharpness. A little light edge enhancement resulted in some mild softness during wide shots. Otherwise the flick was consistently crisp and well-defined. I noticed no shimmering or jagged edges, and source flaws caused no distractions.

Departed went with a fairly subdued palette. The colors appeared accurate and full within the movie’s design, as the tones were always tight and clear. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while shadows demonstrated good clarity and definition. Without the mild softness, this would have been an “A”-level transfer.

Though the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Departed never excelled, it filled out the action reasonably well. Despite the many crime-related sequences, the soundfield remained pretty chatty and music-oriented. These used the front channels well, and ambience also added to the proceedings. A smattering of louder sequences brought out nice involvement from the surrounds, but don’t expect them to dazzle. They worked as fairly minor participants most of the time.

Audio quality was positive. Speech occasionally sounded a little metallic, but the lines were always intelligible and usually appeared natural. Music depended on the source. Scores was vivid and full, and most of the songs followed suit, though they had some ups and downs. Effects seemed accurate and distinctive. While nothing about the audio stood out as particularly memorable, the mix succeeded for the film.

DVD One opens with some Previews. We find ads for The Painted Veil, The Reaping and Blood Diamond. It also includes the trailer for Departed.

This leaves most of the extras on DVD Two. Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed runs 21 minutes and five seconds. It includes interviews with director Martin Scorsese, Massachusetts State Police Major (Rtd.) Tom Duffy, Boston Globe reporters Shelley Murphy, Emily Sweeney and Kevin Cullen, state representative/author Brian Wallace, screenwriter William Monahan, Whitey Bulger’s former top lieutenant Kevin Weeks, A Criminal and an Irishman author Patrick Nee, former pastor of St Augustine’s Church Msgr. Thomas McDonnell, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.

“Fiction” looks at the tale of Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger and its parallels with The Departed’s Frank Costello. We get notes about the story’s adaptation and the South Boston setting, performances, and a few other filmmaking elements.

However, “Fiction” mostly concentrates on Bulger’s exploits. It provides a reasonably informative and concise look at the person behind the Costello character, all of which prove quite interesting for viewers of the film. I’d have preferred a documentary with a little greater length and depth, but this one offers some stimulating elements.

Next comes the TCM documentary Scorsese on Scorsese. Created in 2004, the show runs one hour, 25 minutes and 42 seconds. It offers clips from Scorsese films along with archival materials and the director’s comments about his work and life. We start with some memories of his childhood and his family before we move through his early love of movies and their influence on him. The majority of the show follows Scorsese’s films through 2004’s The Aviator, though it omits a few of them; we hear nothing about 1977’s New York New York, 1985’s After Hours, 1986’s The Color of Money, and 1999’s Bringing Out the Dead, and the piece offers only a glancing reference to 1995’s Casino. The director discusses the flicks in a variety of ways such as themes and personal importance as well as nuts and bolts like cast, performances and staging.

I like the simple format of the program and think that this allows the piece to prosper. Scorsese knows his work well and offers nice insights into his career. The show acts both as an interesting overview as well as a rich examination of important issues connected to Scorsese’s life and work.

Crossing Criminal Cultures goes for 24 minutes and features remarks from Scorsese, DiCaprio, Damon, Duffy, Nee, Cullen, John Jay College of Criminal Justice forensic psychologist Dr. Louis B. Schlesinger, actor Alec Baldwin, and Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers. “Cultures” looks at Scorsese’s “Little Italy” upbringing and its impact on his viewpoint. We also hear a little about the gangster flicks that influenced him as a kid. Scorsese discusses how references to those movies appeared in his later work, and we learn about the evolution of gangster flicks over the years. We find some coverage of violence in Scorsese’s films and various themes.

I really enjoyed many parts of “Cultures”. It’s fascinating to see the shots from the old films and watch their echoes in Scorsese’s own efforts. The parts about Scorsese’s upbringing mostly repeat notes from “Scorsese on Scorsese”, so they’re less valuable, but they still make sure we grasp the basics. Overall, “Cultures” proves to be quite interesting.

Nine Additional Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 12 seconds; that running time includes non-optional introductions by Scorsese. The DVD presents the scenes as one long piece with no chapter markers, so you can’t easily skip from one to another. That’s awkward and somewhat frustrating.

As for the content itself, the scenes are largely insubstantial. We see a little more of Alec Baldwin, which is a good thing, and a few sequences go on a bit longer. This means extra character depth in some ways, and I like the flashback to young Billy and his dad. Still, the scenes don’t add much in general. Scorsese’s intros are useful, as he sets up the segments and lets us know why he left them out of the flick.

While it forms an interesting picture, The Departed doesn’t match up with director Martin Scorsese’s best. It entertains and acts as a worthwhile experience, but it doesn’t leave a substantial impression like Scorsese’s more memorable material. The DVD presents strong picture, good audio and a mix of reasonably informative extras. Departed gets my recommendation but I can’t give it a strong endorsement.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.7083 Stars Number of Votes: 96
3 3:
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