Directed by Martin Scorsese
Script by William Monahan
Based on Infernal Affairs
Starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson
With Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg and Ray Winstone
It's one hell of a cast, with one hell of a director. On top of that, it's based on one of the few recent Honk Kong crime dramas that didn't suck. If one based their enjoyment of film solely on pedigree, than that sad individual must have been waiting for The Departed all year. Taking into consideration that The Departed has been near-universally embraced by both sides of the critical field (art v. entertainment,) one begins to have trouble imagining who it is that doesn't actually want to see this movie.
You're probably out there, and if we cared, The Factual would feel sorry for you. But we don't--because you're a fool.
Irreverent, filthy and soaked in brilliance from minute one, The Departed is the sort of movie that is so increasingly rare that it's almost impossible to believe they ever existed: smart, funny works of art that are as entertaining as they are intelligent. Looking at it another way, Scorsese has clearly thrown out his hand in a way not seen since Taxi Driver and made a movie that, while fun for kids, is refreshingly adult. At the same time, the A-list cast gives some of the best performances of their careers--Leonardo Dicaprio has never, ever been better (and if the adjoining Blood Diamond preview is any indication, will never be this good again,) Matt Damon turns in yet another somber, masculine performance that stands alongside his work in Gerry as another reason why he's the best American actor working today, Mark Wahlberg shows off the type of charismatic magic he hasn't explored since Boogie Nights, Alec Baldwin blusters through the type of filth-laden sweathog role that's become his stock-in-trade, and underrated powerhouses like Anthony Anderson and Ray Winstone continue a long string of stealing scenes. Although every preview had led worriers to think that we'd have to suffer through another hideous performance by Nicholson, to go alongside his previous decade of embarrasing himself, he's so ridiculously well-cast here that every minute he's on-screen, we forgive him for Anger Management, Something's Got To Give and Wolf.
Did we mention forgiveness? What about Scorsese? Excised from his last few missteps, he's recovered the magic that hasn't graced his work since Goodfellas, exploded the myths of the Michael Mann world of crime (where emotion never impacted the job, a gorgeous idea that has become so widespread as to be the current rule) and recreated a filthy world of dark sociopaths propelled by desire that hasn't been this entertaining since the Godfather Part II. The Departed isn't just a great movie, it's one of the best crime movies in a long time.