Movie Review
The Departed
The Departed poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published October 7, 2006
US Release: October 6, 2006

Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Matt Damon , Leonardo DiCaprio , Mark Wahlberg , Jack Nicholson

Running Time: 152 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $133,311,000
2 of 177
Too often the film is a case of style over substance filmmaking, and you can see the actors working hard to breathe life out of the mundane material.
Note: Author's review has changed to a B since initial viewing. Below is the original review.

The Departed is one of those movies I wanted to like more than I actually did. That?s what was going through my mind during the first act, which was enjoyable but a bit breezy. This happens to be Martin Scorcese?s most commercial film to date, and in my opinion that is one of its faults.

The film starts off entertaining (though a bit too much like Scorcese?s previous genre films), and the pacing is pretty good throughout the first act ? but at two and a half hours in the cat and mouse genre, the movie drags. The Departed also seems to be way too aware of itself as an important ensemble piece; the camera moves around the actors to give them all the attention they need, and it?s distracting. It?s obvious that the camera loves these actors, and the actors love the camera, but too often the film is a case of style over substance filmmaking, and you can see the actors working hard to breathe life out of the mundane material. It?s kind of hard for me to come down on Scorcese, but this time the auteur has gone too Hollywood for my taste.

The best that can be said about Departed is that it does look pretty good for all the limitations. The film was shot in very low-key settings, but the production values are bright, which opens up scenes; the office locations look very elegant, and the actors command many of these shots. But the problem with having such a stellar cast in a movie like this is that fans can make claims of wasted talent. I, for one, saw through Jack Nicholson?s performance right from the beginning, and was reminded too much of Ray Liotta in Goodfellas (B+). Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio are pretty good for the little they have to work with, but the story has clich?s, and an unnecessary love triangle throws things off (the film has some of the same problems as The Score).

The Departed plays best during the film?s darker stretches ? especially the killings, which are masterfully executed. But too often the film just lingers around while not much happens. This is an old-fashioned thriller in which talk overshadows the action, but the story is a lot more straightforward than it?s made out to be; without these actors the movie would?ve been a waste of time. Scorcese does what he can with the material, but he?s at odds with a script that isn?t up to his level. This is certainly familiar territory for the auteur, but the fascination and awe of Scorcese?s previous genre films is missing.
Lee's Grade: B
Ranked #2 of 177 between Borat (#1) and United 93 (#3) for 2006 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 2968 graded movies
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'The Departed' Articles
  • Craig's review B+
    October 5, 2006    The Departed is the Irish equivalent {of} Goodfellas, {and} one of the best flicks I?ve seen this year. -- Craig Younkin
  • Weekend Outlook (10/6 - 10/8)
    October 5, 2006    Mass audiences haven?t rushed out to a Scorcese release in fifteen years, and {The Departed} is in a familiar genre that could reach beyond the norm. -- Lee Tistaert