The Departed

Two of the three movies I am most excited to see this summer, “Pacific Rim” and “The Way Way Back,” are out in theaters this weekend.

ElysiumMy third pick “Elysium” (Matt Damon!) is due for release in August. If I see the first two in one weekend, which is the plan, what else am I going to watch?

There are countless movies on my list that I have not watched even once but, on a recent Saturday night off, I decided to revisit “The Departed.”

The 2007 Academy Award winner for best picture is inspired by the film “Infernal Affairs” from Hong Kong.

I have not seen that film, or the other two in its series, but get the sense Martin Scorsese’s creation was more of a tribute to it than a big budget remake.

It’s commonplace now that many films are based on other films or art forms and I appreciate how literary stories can be brought to life on screen or through a different person’s point of view.

The DepartedIn the case of “The Departed,” Scorsese took the story of police force corruption and the mafia from  Hong Kong to Boston. Writers from “Infernal Affairs,” Alan Mak and Felix Chong are credited for the film and William Monahan adapted the screenplay. He also won an Academy Award for his work.

It was nice to watch the film at home and rewind scenes to pick up details I did not notice years ago.

It starts with the stories of Colin (Matt Damon) and Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio) coming up in Boston and working their way toward making rank in the Massachusetts State Police.

In the background is mafia boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) who knows Colin from a young age and gets to know Billy more later on.

Billy is more of a “wrong side of the tracks” kid trying to make his life right and Colin only seems like a good guy on the surface.

Colin is loyal to Frank and the mafia and therefore works as a mole from inside the police department. Any time an investigation into Frank’s crimes comes up, he can thwart the police from his trail.

Billy ends up working undercover from inside Frank’s crew to help with police investigations.

When Billy and Colin find out a there is a rat on both sides, they end up searching for each other.

The story builds slowly and watching it at home you can really take in the plot and the techniques of Scorsese and Monahan.

The lead actors, Damon and DiCaprio, played characters fighting their own internal battles as much as trying to survive in the world of crime and corruption.

Damon, as Colin, is only pretending to be one of the police force and is very private about his work with his girlfriend Madolyn (Vera Farmiga).

As Billy, DiCaprio ends up being used both by Frank and his bosses Dignam (Mark Wahlberg – nominated for best supporting actor) and Queenan (Martin Sheen) that he just doesn’t seem to have a place in the world at times.

Nicholson in the role of Costello, has more of a one note character who wants what’s best for himself and won’t protect those who work for him.

Billy is the one you want to have a chance in the world, but it’s surprising who ends up with the last word.

I hope I’ve inspired a second viewing of “The Departed” or if you haven’t seen it take a few hours on this hot day for a screening.

“When I was your age, they would say you can become cops or you can become criminals. Today what I’m saying is this, when you’re facing a loaded gun, what’s the difference?”

– Frank Costello

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