Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed

The Academy Awards may be only five months away, yet there is already a guaranteed Best Picture contender.

The Departed is director Martin Scorcese’s latest feature and it (thankfully) returns to what Scorcese does best: dark, action packed, crime dramas.

Based on the 2002 Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs, The Departed follows Boston crime boss Frank Costello, played by Jack Nicholson. The Massachusetts State Police and FBI are desperate to bring down Costello’s reign. They place Billy Costigan (a remarkable Leonardo DiCaprio) undercover without knowing that Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), a Costello protégé, has been rising to the top of the state police all along. Both sides quickly learn that the enemy has infiltrated their system and the film climaxes in a bloody mess.

Mark Whalberg, Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, and Alec Baldwin round out the cast in this stellar picture.

Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the witty and sinister Costello sometimes strays from the films’ principal ideas of violence, corruption, deception, and loyalty. Nevertheless, Nicholson delivers an unforgettable and notable performance.

The Departed’s greatest achievement, however, comes at the hands of Leonardo DiCaprio. Starring in his third Scorsese feature, DiCaprio delivers his best and most intriguing performance to date. DiCaprio molds his character until all vulnerability and strength has been removed, leaving him empty and distraught.

The Departed is, without a doubt, the year’s best release thus far. With sharp direction, great music, and perfect characterizations, Martin Scorcese creates a captivating motion picture and proves once again why he is the greatest American director.

Published: The Mount Holyoke News
October 12, 2006

Updated October 11, 2010

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