The Departed, a basic remake of the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs, tells the story of Boston mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) and his ruling ways of the streets. An early scene in the film shows Costello recruiting a young boy inside a convenience store (where he naturally picks up his commission promising to keep his men out of the neighborhood). The film soon flashes forward to a semi-present day where we meet a man named Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). Turns out that this is the child Frank recruited in the previous scene. Luckily for Costello, Sullivan has just joined the prestigious Massachusetts State Police. His ultimate role is to make sure the cops never get to Costello. Now we know why the Department thinks Costello is so “clever” and can “always anticipate their every move”.
We soon meet another character named Billy Costigan (Leonardo Dicaprio), a man who wants nothing more than to be a cop. Costigan is interviewed by two detectives named Dignam (Mark Whalberg) and Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen) who ultimately decide that Costigan has to go undercover as a mole joining the ranks of Costello’s mob group. Costigan’s ultimate goal is to find out which man Costello has working as a mole in the State Police. The rest of the film follows convincing sequence after sequence as each group tries to undercover each other’s mole all while trying to keep their act up.
While The Departed may not be Scorsese’s finest film to date (I still assure that film is either Goodfellas or Taxi Driver), the film is nothing short of a masterpiece. Scorsese has a unique gift when it comes to telling a story. Even though the basic premise, as mentioned above, is not original Scorsese, I can say that the man has done an admirable job telling the famous Hong Kong story. Each sequence is shot with utter finesse and skill. As we learn more and more about the State Police and the Irish mob, Scorsese shows the pain and suffering characters like Costello, Sullivan, Costigan, Queenan and Dignam go through. Scorsese has also brought together possibly one of the finest casts in years with the likes of Dicaprio, Damon, Nicholson, Sheen and Whalberg.
As I just mentioned, the casting in this film is absolutely top notch. For myself (the pre Titanic days with films like The Basketball Diaries), Dicaprio has always been one of those actors that I simply continue to remark “one day this man is going to win an Oscar”. Dicaprio is perfect in the role of Costigan showcasing the pain of living each day wondering if he’ll be caught. Not much can really be said about an actor like Jack Nicholson or Matt Damon. Each has never really ever acted poorly in either their long or somewhat short career. Sheen is also a joy here in the somewhat subtle role as Queenan. Whalberg, as the academy may recognize, is absolutely perfect in this film. It amazes me that this man was once referred to “Marky-Mark”. The man is an interesting actor adding much needed humor to this otherwise darker film (for pure evidence check out about 23 minutes in – simply priceless).
For Scorsese, The Departed is a cinematic achievement. Almost every critic across the country has labeled this as one of his best, which I can’t disagree with. Hopefully the Academy shares a similar sentiment and finally awards this man the Oscar he has been snubbed over time and time again. Simply put if you’re a fan of Scorsese this is a must see. Come to think of it, even if you’re NOT a fan of Scorsese, this is still a must see. The Departed reassures us that fantastic films can still be made.
Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 2:40:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, The Departed is being touted as the format seller on many forums throughout. Warner should be proud here as this transfer helps to capture all the gritty nature of the Boston mob world.
Detail was excellent with each area of Boston shining in a crisp manner. I particularly liked how cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (who also worked with Scorsese on 2002’s Gangs of New York) was able to fully capture every little detail of the Boston streets. Color usage was also impressive with bright whites and blues. I had wondered if some of the blacks (around the first “set-up” sequence) would result in a bit of grain. Such isn’t the case here. In fact items like video noise and grain were kept to a bare minimum rarely showing for more than a few seconds (I only really noticed a bit of grain when Costigan is trailing Sullivan outside of the theater). No real evidence of pixilation or distortion in the print.
The Departed benefits from having a newer print (having just been released into theaters last October). This results in an all around fantastic transfer that is only marred by the slight scene of aforementioned grain. Otherwise from that, I couldn’t find any other imperfections on this one.
Warner seems to be the only HD supporting company to offer Dolby TrueHD on their film releases as The Departed is another catalogue title that offers this dynamite track. While not as booming as say Superman Returns or Batman Begins, the TrueHD track for The Departed is still excellent simply for the aural effect the film gives you.
What I found most effective here is that the use of the film’s surround, obviously not as effective as other bigger titles, was able to create a perfect atmosphere. During a few critical film sequences (especially the ending sequence), surround usage kicked up as bullets flew. Dynamic Range was equally as effective. Dialogue was spot on never becoming muddled or hard to understand. The sub was active but in a relatively quiet manner never creating a shaking effect that say Chapter 28 did in Batman Begins.
Also included here is the standard affair with a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track. Switching between both off and on, I noticed that the TrueHD track provided more overall quality as the Plus 5.1 was a lot quieter and subtler than the TrueHD. It’s pretty obvious which track most users will chose here, but I will say that Warner has delivered a fine audio experience here.
Unfortunately missing from this HD version is the documentary on director Martin Scorsese.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get 9 different deleted scenes with an introduction by Martin Scorsese. Most of the scenes are definitely worth the watch once through, but after the first glance, none of the scenes really felt like they would have added much to the final film.
- The Story of the Boston Mob: This one runs 20 minutes and covers the story behind the basis of Jack Nicholson’s character. I personally found this one highly informative and well worth the time. Comments are made some journalists and a couple members of the Boston Police Department.
- Crossing Criminal Cultures: Running 24 minutes, this feature works as a comparison piece. Scorsese’s other films, including Goodfellas, are looked at in a cross companion method.
- Theatrical Trailer: The film’s Theatrical Trailer is shown.
Scorsese proves with The Departed that the man still has the ability to create an all-around engrossing film (did we ever think he didn’t have it in him?). Warner has provided a fine disc with an impressive transfer and an equally impressive TrueHD track. The only slight disappointment here is that Warner neglected to include the Scorsese on Scorsese feature that is on the 2-Disc SD-DVD. Otherwise from that, whichever format you support, definitely pick this one simply for the film.