Review: The Departed (2006)

The Departed Movie Poster

“We have a question: Do you want to be a cop, or do you want to appear to be a cop? It’s an honest question.”
– Oliver Queenan

Francis “Frank” Costello (Jack Nicholson) runs the Irish organised crime in South Boston. He is smart and values education, and clever at picking out loyal gang members. At a very young age he picks Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and cultivates him to be one of his finest assets. Sullivan trains and enters into the Massachusetts State Police, and now acts as a perfectly placed mole within the police force. However, luck would have it that Sullivan gets moved into the Special Investigations Unit, which deals directly with hunting for Frank Costello and taking him down. It seems Costello’s efforts with Sullivan will pay off. Meanwhile, William “Billy” Costigan works his way through the police academy, but is approached by Captain Oliver Charles Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) to infiltrate Costello’s gang, going undercover. They cannot hide that he was at the academy, but they can have him arrested and incarcerated to have a believable background. Costigan has family ties back to organised crime that is most helpful to get him in with the right people.

the departed matt damon as sullivan

“When you decide to be something, you can be it. That’s what they don’t tell you in the church. When I was your age they would say we can become cops, or criminals.” – Frank Costello

Costigan flushes his life away and goes to prison. Coming out, he meets up with his cousin Sean (Kevin Corrigan) and starts running drugs. Slowly but surely, he starts getting in with the right people. Costigan gets an introduction with Arnold “Frenchie” French (Ray Winstone) and later meets with Costello himself, who after a painful interrogation decides that he could use a guy like that. Both Sullivan and Costigan are on their way to infiltrating properly, and Sullivan starts seeing psychiatrist Dr Madolyn Madden (Vera Farmiga), though their relationship it not peachy. Costigan is actually seeing Madolyn for his state mandated psychology sessions for probation. He is attracted to her, and when things get rough between her and Sullivan, she starts something up with Costigan. Costigan is proving himself to be a real asset to Costello, and climbs the ranks rather quickly.

the departed billy costigan

“Is there something that you just wanna go ahead and ask me?” – Billy Costigan

It soon becomes evident to the Special Investigations Unit that they have a mole, and Costello and Sullivan suspect that there is a rat within Costello’s ranks. Sullivan is tasked by Queenan to find the mole, who happens to be himself. Costigan and Sullivan are now desperately hunting each other, both terrified of what would happen if they were discovered. Costigan had already tried to get out of the life though Queenan begged him to stay on just a little bit longer. Costigan fears for his life, and is horrified by the terrible things that he sees daily. Sullivan’s perfect little life starts unravelling when it becomes evident that he had better come up with the mole’s identity, but he cannot very well give up himself.

the departed chatting with costello

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” – Frank Costello

Will Costigan find out who the mole within the State Police is? Will Sullivan discover the identity of Costigan, Costello’s rat? Will Queenan stick to his word and get Costigan out before it is too late? What will Dignam do with the way the investigation is being run, and the fact that he does not like Sullivan? How safe is Costello really? Is he as untouchable as it is all made out?

The Departed scores a solid 9/10 for me. I absolutely love this film and it really never gets old for me. It has a damn fine cast with a pretty slick plot that is laid out incredibly well. There are no arb jumps and things that leave you lost and confused. The acting is top notch and the tension keeps you hooked from the get go, with never a dull moment working its way into the precious minutes of your life that are being dedicated to this film. It is long but never, ever drags out. Jack Nicholson is impressive as Irish gangster Frank Costello, and his relationship with Matt Damon’s Sullivan was worth checking out, too. Sullivan was slick and smooth and completely believable in his role of mole within the police force. DiCaprio was a wonder (as always) to experience as Billy Costigan, and gave the character so much colour and flair. He went from angry and badass to terrified yet loyal to the job. Wahlberg’s character was such a douche, and he gave him so much life! I really thought the characters were constructed well. There is so much to say about this movie, so much that worked about it. One of the best movies I have seen in ages, something I continually go back to and love. I thoroughly enjoyed the soundtrack for The Departed. Probably my favourite use of Gimme Shelter in a movie. The movie is fast paced and thrilling, and has you at the edge of your seat for the duration of it. It is one of my favourite movies, and Martin Scorsese did another phenomenal job with his people on this one. What a thrilling flick! For a far more in depth review of what I thought about this, you can go check it out here.

About Zoë

I am 26 years old and I live in South Africa. I love to read, and I watch a lot of series and movies. I am currently studying part time, and I am thoroughly enjoying my course. I work full time, too. I am crazy about The Lord of the Rings, Batman (the initial two Tim Burton ones, and the last three Christopher Nolan ones), Star Wars, Harry Potter (although not those dreadful movies), The Godfather, James Bond, Hannibal, Indiana Jones, mob movies, war movies, reading as much as I can and binge watching television series. Some of my favourite authors are Karin Slaughter, Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Joe Hill, John Green, Thomas Harris, and Stieg Larsson. I love film, and have extensive lists of people whose work I enjoy. I am a ridiculously huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio (ask anyone, they'll confirm it), and I honestly believe Christopher Nolan can do no wrong. Quentin Tarantino never fails to thrill me, either, and Martin Scorsese is phenomenal. I review a lot on my blog because I love to share my opinion about things and get into some great discussions with people, so please feel free to chat with me! Alright, enough waffling here from me. View all posts by Zoë

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