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:: The Departed

Lots of blood, bullets, and bluster mark this brilliant Martin Scorsese picture. He explores double lives, deception, trust, and father-son relationships in this riveting film. The script deserves a great cast and it certainly has it.

The story tells of a long-standing effort by the Massachusetts police to capture a Boston mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Two rookies now get their opportunity in the latest tactics. The brash, intelligent Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is placed in the Special Investigations Unit, after having a meteoric rise through the ranks. Then there is Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), raised on both sides of the tracks, and now sent deep undercover, into the heart of Costello’s territory. He proves to have the ability in being convincing no matter the situation.

The film moves along parallel tracks with both Colin and Billy trying to tip off or nail the crooks and both fearing they might be exposed. The two men are also drawn to the same woman, a psychiatrist Vera Farmiga). It’s a real cat and mouse game that keeps you intensely interested.

One of the great moments of the film is when Colin and Billy, in a bid for a tip-off, end up telephoning each other. The pause is noteworthy for its dramatic effect.

Scorsese proves himself to be a master director – again. Into this crime thriller, he even adds a touch of dark humour and he brings out some brilliant acting performances. DiCaprio is a revelation in this role, spiralling through various emotions and situations. Damon is also adept in his intriguing role. Jack is, well, Jack. His presence adds much to the film and delivers a top performance. Incidentally, he got the role after the unavailability of Scorsese’s long-time colleague Robert De Niro. The support cast is fantastic too. Watch for Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin, in particular.

The screenplay is the great asset here. It features some of the best dialogue heard in a long time. Therefore, it all adds up to Martin Scorsese being in top form and he has produced one of the sharpest films in years. As in the Goodfellas mould, there is much violence, but it demonstrates the authenticity that Scorsese presents. Surely, he must win that elusive Academy Award for what I believe is the best film of 2006.