Tuesday 18th January 2022

The Departed (18)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz
Jack Nicholson is not the devil. Honest.
Jack Nicholson is not the devil. Honest.

Martin Scorsese may have lost the ability to make a short film, but has the acclaimed director of Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Taxi Driver lost the ability to make a good film? I was disappointed with Scorsese's most recent efforts (Gangs of New York and The Aviator) and he wouldn't be the first director to lose his je ne sais quoi in his twilight years. Luckily for us, with the return to his most successful genre (gangster films), Scorsese has also triumphantly returned to form with this remake of the Chinese classic Infernal Affairs.

The story is simply one of the best premises I've ever heard, although I always feel it is very hard to deliver on all that it promises. The idea is that an ageing, senior policeman (Martin Sheen) and an ageing crime lord (Jack Nicholson) have long been rivals, but the rozzer has always failed to convict the naughty criminal. Each man hatches one final gambit though – to place a mole in the other's organisation. Nicholson's character handpicks and grooms a smart kid (Matt Damon) from the streets, ensures he is educated and sent to the Boston Police Academy (no sign of Mahoney) and planted straight into a position of power within the State Troopers.

Meanwhile, hard-working, but sprout-faced actor Leonardo DiCaprio grows up on the wrong side of the tracks, with a family of thugs and criminals as his heritage. However, largely due to his mother's influence, he also attends the police academy (no sign of Hightower either) and on his first day as a State Trooper is pressured into going deep undercover with the crime organisation he worked so hard to avoid. He's understandably apprehensive about starting his police career with a stretch in prison and the life of (pretend) crime he's being asked to embark upon, but when President Bartlet asks you, you can't really say no.

The really exciting and dramatic part occurs some way into the film, however, when the two moles learn of each other's existence and begin to uncover each other's identity without giving themselves away.

The subject matter is scintillating stuff, but there is so much more to enjoy about this film. The acting performances from a truly all-star cast are outstanding, with plenty of screen time and focus given to Nicholson's character. The script is smart and funny, and there is so much swearing and violence it makes you feel like you are misbehaving just watching it. Which is brilliant!

With Scorsese swinging the camera around, it's no surprise that it is wonderfully shot and paced too. In fact, I can't think of many bad things to say about this film. It is a remake, and therefore parts of it are inferior to the original. However, being longer, deeper and in English makes it much easier to follow and more accessible than Infernal Affairs. There are a couple of loose ends that aren't tied up in the story, and some of the character's decision making might not stand up to post-viewing scrutiny. Overall though, a big pat on the back for Marty for making another awesome gangster film.

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Length: 151 minutes
Certificate: 18
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 6th October 2006

Top Five Rating: 90.0%90.0%90.0%90.0%90.0%90.0%90.0%90.0%90.0%90.0% (90.0%)
User Rating: 75.0%75.0%75.0%75.0%75.0%75.0%75.0%75.0%75.0%75.0% (75.0%)

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