Quick-Thoughts: Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (2006)

2nd Viewing • Screened at Harkins

Someone needs to tell Scorsese that Gimme Shelter is not the only Rolling Stones song in existence, as iconic as it is.

You f**k, you get f**ked back: the cycle of our dearly departed. Madolyn does, well, the literal f**king that’s needed for the soon to be f**ked to get f**ked, but obviously the bigger f**king is within the lies and deception of corporation and partnerships, or the bullets then deaths that send heroes and villains into the unknown as the world fends to never recognize that they had actually ever existed. Or maybe, that’s the true sliminess of it all: this segregational grouping is what initiates competition, and the unwanted intimacy of betrayal and character-based analogs. Martin Scorsese’s The Departed is a near favorable example of the crime/thriller genre committed to near zenith effect, with the element of surprise taking next level jabs in this remake that are nonexistent in about most the movies I’ve seen yet. 

Jack Nicholson’s character, Frank Costello, could be the highlight of The Departed for me. He’s a manipulator on the lower-class, someone who is aware of what he’s doing but uses his vain philosophy to justify conquest, as it fits in with the historical behavior of humans; he’s intelligent enough though to recognize the potential of those who seek education (the possible saviors from this conundrum), but he doesn’t currently see it as something practical in defense against a country that was raised untamable from the very beginning in its negative habits of ethnic isolation, so he ultimately just takes advantage of the hate of our people to add more wood to the fire for his own pleasures; this is sadly why he’s been able to succeed for so long; racism calls for that since forever.

The dialogue of The Departed is razor sharp as you may probably already know; the constant momentum of the brute humor of it is just unquestionably magnetizing; I can’t imagine someone not being attracted to its ferocity. The invisible dynamic between our two main characters Colin and Billy is also quite rich with its design of showcasing two sides of betrayal which both originated from lower-class control and predetermined adversity; the blossoming of it as it nears more and more transparent rather than invisible to one another, is a smooth, slow-burn transition that keeps the audience invested throughout the film’s entire runtime; just overall, it makes this movie so unusually enticing compared to many other detective dramas. The generally competent plot isn’t afraid to continuously shock too, with no fear in emphasizing to the audience that no character here is guarded by excessive armor. 

To get into nitpicks, The Departed has always been one of Scorsese’s most compositionally boring to me; luckily, the director has his typical personality-driven camera movements to at least somewhat compensate for that. I think Thelma Schoonmaker’s editing and the sound bites here actually enhance the style of the film also, which could’ve come off pretty stale without it due to it’s insanely jumpy immediacy: a nauseating feeling that perfectly replicates the pressuring experience and psychological turmoil of our main characters. I do though still absolutely hate some parts of Howard Shore’s score, as well, which is mind-blowing cause this dude is undoubtedly a fantastic composer; it just sounds so cheesy occasionally in this particular movie. There are also a couple plot holes and dramatic coincidences that bothered the devil out of me too; the slim likelihood of Colin and Billy’s relationship with Madolyn didn’t bother me as much considering its there in a symbolic nature, but there are genuinely moments in this movie where main characters make the absolute stupidest of decisions that are so patently there to push the plot forward in the directions it wants to go, and it took me out a couple times despite how gruesome many of the film’s twists and turns were; if they were thought out a tiny bit more practically I may have found this Scorsese affair to be close to perfect.

But… okay, so Mark Wahlberg’s performance alone may or may not have raised my score up just ever so slightly. We ought to give him more roles like this. The comedic relief always strikes back.

Verdict: A-

Martin Scorsese Ranked

“The Departed” is now available to stream on Netflix.

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