Sunday, September 7, 2008

"The Departed" Is Best Mob Film Since Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" in 1972

by: Ed Bagley

The Departed – 4 Stars (Excellent)

Let me get to the most important thing first: Director Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for "The Departed".

Scorsese, one of the most accomplished directors of our era, has been nominated for 7 Oscars-5 for Best Director and 2 for Best Screenplay-before winning with The Departed.

He had also received 7 Golden Globe nominations-6 for Best Director and 1 for Best Screenplay-and won for Gangs of New York before winning again for The Departed this year (2007).

The Departed is simply the best mob film since Mario Puzo's original Godfather in 1972.

Besides Scorsese, The Departed won for Best Picture, Best Screenplay (William Monahan) and Best Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), giving The Departed 4 Oscar wins to The Godfather's 3 (Marlon Brando for Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Screenplay by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola).

Mark Wahlberg was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor as Sgt. Sean Dignam.

The Departed also picked up 45 more wins and another 45 nominations, including another win for Scorsese (Best Director) and nominations for Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg) at the Golden Globes.

In short, The Departed brought home more hardware than a Home Depot shopping spree.

The icing on the cake for Scorsese was his best box-office opening ever ($26 million), his highest grossing film ever with $132 million nationally and $288 million worldwide through March 2007, and $48 million more in VHS rentals. The film's budget was $90 million.

The all-star cast of DiCaprio (Billy Costigan), Matt Damon (Sgt. Colin Sullivan), Jack Nicholson (Frank Costello), Wahlberg (Sgt. Sean Dignam), Martin Sheen (Capt. Oliver Queenan) and Alec Baldwin (Capt. George Ellerby) did not hurt a lick.

The story takes place in Boston where Irish Mob boss Frank Costello (Nicholson) embeds Colin Sullivan (Damon) as an informant with the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the State Police assign Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) to infiltrate Costello's crew.

When both sides figure out the situation, it is left to Sullivan and Costigan to discover each other's identity.

Along the way, 22 people get whacked (this is a Mob flick), the "f" word is used 237 times (about 235 times too many), and we get a study in relationship psychology as the only real love interest-Madolyn Madden-is a criminal psychiatrist who is wooed by both rivals.

The Departed kept my attention riveted for 151 minutes. The three main characters (Costello, Sullivan and Costigan) all show their anguish in balancing survival, winning and conquering the moment.

There are apparently two versions of this film. I saw the longer version that is rated R for strong brutal violence, pervasive language, and some strong sexual content and drug material.

This film is not for children or young adults, not that young adults do not hear the same "f" word dozens a time a day at high schools all over the country, but who needs the "f" word 237 times in 2.5 hours? Nobody.

I managed to tune out the cussing and concentrate on the story, acting and presentation that were excellent for an action flick with Mob presence.

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