The Departed is a 2006 American crime thriller[2][3][4] film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by William Monahan.[5] It is both a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs and also loosely based on the real-life Boston Winter Hill Gang; the character Colin Sullivan is based on the corrupt FBI agent John Connolly, while the character Frank Costello is based on Irish-American gangster and crime boss Whitey Bulger.[6][7][8] The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, with Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson and James Badge Dale in supporting roles.

The Departed
The text "THE DEPARTED" against a black background; the text is filled in with photos of Leonardo DiCaprio (top), Jack Nicholson (right), and Matt Damon (left)
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMartin Scorsese
Screenplay byWilliam Monahan
Based onInfernal Affairs
by Alan Mak & Felix Chong
Produced by
CinematographyMichael Ballhaus
Edited byThelma Schoonmaker
Music byHoward Shore
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • September 26, 2006 (2006-09-26) (Ziegfeld Theatre)
  • October 6, 2006 (2006-10-06) (United States)
Running time
151 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$90 million[1]
Box office$291.5 million[1]

The film takes place in Boston and the surrounding metro area, primarily in the South Boston neighborhood. Irish Mob boss Frank Costello (Nicholson) plants Colin Sullivan (Damon) as a spy within the Massachusetts State Police; simultaneously, the police assign undercover state trooper Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) to infiltrate Costello's mob crew. When both sides realize the situation, Sullivan and Costigan each attempt to discover the other's identity before they are found out.

The Departed was a critical and commercial success, receiving acclaim for its direction, performances (particularly of DiCaprio, Nicholson, and Wahlberg), screenplay,[9] and editing.[10] It won several accolades, including four Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards: for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. It became Scorsese's first and, to date, only personal Oscar win;[11] Wahlberg was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The film also received six nominations at the 64th Golden Globe Awards, six nominations at the 60th British Academy Film Awards, and two nominations at the 13th Screen Actors Guild Awards. DiCaprio was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama (also nominated that year in the same category for Blood Diamond), BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance.

Plot edit

In mid-1980s South Boston, Irish Mob boss Frank Costello introduces himself to a young Colin Sullivan. Twenty years later, Sullivan has been groomed as a spy inside the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) and joins the Special Investigation Unit (SIU), which is building a case against Costello. A police academy recruit, Billy Costigan Jr., is selected by Captain Queenan and Staff Sergeant Dignam to go undercover and infiltrate Costello's crew due to his family ties to organized crime, with his deceased uncle Jackie having been connected with Costello's outfit. SIU Captain George Ellerby informs Special Investigations that the identities of undercovers will be known only to Queenan and Dignam to prevent leaks.

Costigan serves a term in prison to set up his cover and further commits a series of crimes in an effort to draw the attention of Costello and his primary enforcer Arnold French, who later recruit Costigan into the organization due to their affection for his uncle. Over the next year, Costigan becomes increasingly involved in the operation. Due to the stress of having to maintain his cover, his emotional and mental state declines, and he threatens to quit, but Queenan and Dignam convince him to continue. Costigan's only other contact in the MSP is his court-ordered psychiatrist, Madolyn Madden, who is coincidentally Sullivan's girlfriend. Costigan and Madden later have an affair.

Queenan and Dignam tell Costigan that Costello's crew is selling stolen computer microprocessors to China. The MSP sets up surveillance, but Sullivan tips off Costello, allowing everyone to escape. The MSP and Costello realize there is a mole in their respective ranks and task Costigan and Sullivan to find them. Meanwhile, Costigan learns that Costello is a protected FBI informant. Costigan shares his discovery with Queenan and Dignam while warning them that Costello is aware of a spy in his organization.

Late one night, Costigan follows Costello into an adult theater and witnesses him giving Sullivan an envelope containing information of his crew for Sullivan to cross reference with police records. Queenan instructs Costigan to get a visual ID of Sullivan but he is unable to get a good look at his face. When Sullivan realizes that he is being followed, he mistakenly stabs a restaurant worker and flees. Later, Sullivan tries to cross-reference Costigan's picture, captured by nearby security footage, against police officer databases but cannot identify him. Queenan advises Sullivan to follow Costello to find the MSP mole. Fearing that he will soon be discovered and killed, Costigan calls Queenan and sets up a meeting to abort the operation, but Sullivan has Queenan followed, lying to the other officers that Queenan may be the spy. Sullivan also calls in Costello's gang to the meeting location.

When Costello's men arrive, Queenan helps Costigan escape before being thrown from the building's roof to his death. This causes a firefight between SIU agents and Costello's men. Angered by Queenan's murder, Dignam attacks Sullivan and is suspended by Ellerby. Timothy Delahunt, one of Costello's henchmen who was mortally wounded in the gunfight, tells Costigan that he knows he is the rat, but just before he succumbs to his wounds, Delahunt implies that he is also working for law enforcement. A news report reveals that Delahunt was an undercover officer for the Boston Police Department, but Costello suspects the police department made up the claim so he would stop looking for the mole. Sullivan looks through Queenan's belongings and learns that Costello is an FBI informant after reading Queenan's notebook. Deciding to turn on him, Sullivan directs the MSP to tail Costello to a cocaine drop-off, where a gunfight erupts, killing most of Costello's crew. Sullivan confronts a wounded Costello, who admits to being an FBI informant. They exchange gunfire, and Sullivan kills him.

His assignment finished, Costigan goes to Sullivan to reveal his undercover status, still unaware of the other's true identity. After Sullivan goes to another room, Costigan notices the same envelope from the theater on his desk. Costigan ascertains that Sullivan was Costello's mole, and escapes. Shortly after, Sullivan returns to find Costigan gone, and realizes that he now knows his true identity. He erases Costigan's records from police computers. Costigan visits Madolyn and hands her an envelope, instructing her to open it if something happens to him. Later, she opens a package Costigan sent to Sullivan and listens to tapes Costello made of himself with Sullivan, causing her to leave Sullivan. In order to retrieve his records, Costigan arranges to meet Sullivan on the rooftop where Queenan was killed, then arrests him. Costigan calls Trooper Brown, an acquaintance from the police academy, to substantiate his identity, but Brown pulls a gun on Costigan when he arrives, unsure who is telling the truth.

Costigan says that he has evidence tying Sullivan to Costello, and Brown lets him go down the elevator. Upon reaching the lobby, Costigan and Brown are killed by Trooper Barrigan, a friend of Sullivan's who reveals himself to be another spy working for Costello. Sullivan shoots Barrigan dead, allowing him to out Barrigan as the mole while removing suspicion from himself. When Sullivan arrives home, Dignam is waiting for him inside and shoots him in the head before he leaves. A rat runs across the rail of the balcony with a view of the Massachusetts State House in the background.

Cast edit

Production edit

Martin Scorsese, the director of the film, in 2010

In January 2003, Warner Bros., producer Brad Grey, and actor/producer Brad Pitt bought the rights to remake the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002) from Media Asia for $1.75 million.[12][13] William Monahan was secured as a screenwriter, and later Martin Scorsese, who admired Monahan's script, came on board as director.[13][7][14]

In March 2004, United Press International announced that Scorsese would be remaking Infernal Affairs and setting it in Boston, and that Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt were slated to star.[15] Pitt, tentatively scheduled to play Sullivan, later declined to play the role, saying a younger actor should play the part; he decided to produce the film instead.[14] Scorsese's associate Kenneth Lonergan suggested Matt Damon, who grew up in Boston, for the part of Sullivan, and Scorsese asked Jack Nicholson to play Costello.[7] Robert De Niro was approached to play Queenan, but De Niro declined in order to direct The Good Shepherd instead.[16] Scorsese would later say that De Niro turned down the role as he was not interested.[17] Ray Liotta was approached for a role in the film, but declined due to a commitment to another project.[18]

Nicholson wanted the film to have "something a little more" than the usual gangster film, and screenwriter Monahan came up with the idea of basing the Costello character on Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger. This gave the screenplay an element of realism—and an element of dangerous uncertainty, because of the wide-ranging carte blanche the FBI gave Bulger in exchange for revealing information about fellow gangsters.[7] A technical consultant on the film was Tom Duffy, who had served three decades on the Boston Police Department, particularly as an undercover detective investigating the Irish mob.[19][20]

The Departed was officially greenlit by Warner Bros. in early 2005 and began shooting in the spring of 2005.[13] Some of the film was shot on location in Boston. For budgetary and logistical reasons many scenes, in particular interiors, were shot in locations and sets in New York City, which had tax incentives for filmmakers that Boston at the time did not.[7][21]

Themes and motifs edit

Film critic Stanley Kauffmann said that for The Departed, Scorsese "was apparently concerned with the idea of identity, one of the ancient themes of drama, and how it affects one's actions, emotions, self-knowledge, even dreams." Kauffmann, however, did not find the theme conveyed with particular effectiveness in the film.[22] Film critic Roger Ebert compared Costigan and Sullivan's seeking of approval from those they are deceiving to Stockholm syndrome.[23] Ebert also noted the themes of Catholic guilt.[23]

In the final scene, a rat is seen on Sullivan's window ledge. Scorsese acknowledges that while it is not meant to be taken literally, it somewhat symbolizes the "quest for the rat" in the film and the strong sense of distrust among the characters, much like post-9/11 U.S. The window view behind the rat is a nod to gangster films like Little Caesar (1931), Scarface (1932), and White Heat (1949).[24] The film's penultimate scene at Costigan's funeral, when Madolyn walks straight past Sullivan and out of camera without looking at him, is a visual quotation of the famous closing scene from The Third Man.

Throughout the film, Scorsese uses an "X" motif to foreshadow death in a manner similar to Howard Hawks' film Scarface (1932). Examples include shots of cross-beam supports in an airport walkway when Costigan is phoning Sgt. Dignam, the lighted "X" on the wall in Sullivan's office when he assures Costello over the phone that Costigan is not the rat, the taped windows of the building Queenan enters before being thrown to his death, behind Costigan's head in the elevator before he is shot, and the carpeted hallway floor when Sullivan returns to his apartment before being shot by Dignam at the film's end.[25]

Reception edit

Box office edit

The Departed grossed $132.4 million in the United States and Canada and $159 million in other territories for a total gross of $291.5 million, against a production budget of $90 million.[1]

The film grossed $26.9 million in its opening weekend, becoming the fourth Scorsese film to debut at number one.[26] In the following three weeks the film grossed $19 million, $13.5 million and $9.8 million, finishing second at the box office each time, before grossing $7.7 million and dropping to 5th in its fifth week.[27]

Critical response edit

As per the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 91% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 287 reviews, with an average rating of 8.30 out of 10. The site's critics consensus reads, "Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality we have come to expect from Martin Scorsese."[28] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 85 out of 100, with 92% positive reviews based on 39 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[29] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[30]

Entertainment Weekly ranked it on its end-of-the-decade "Best of" list, saying: "If they're lucky, directors make one classic film in their career. Martin Scorsese has one per decade (Taxi Driver in the '70s, Raging Bull in the '80s, Goodfellas in the '90s). His 2006 Irish Mafia masterpiece kept the streak alive."[31]

Roger Ebert gave the film four stars out of four, praising Scorsese for thematically differentiating his film from the original.[23] Online critic James Berardinelli awarded the film four stars out of four, praising it as "an American epic tragedy." He went on to claim that the film deserves to be ranked alongside Scorsese's past successes, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas.[32]

Andrew Lau, the co-director of Infernal Affairs, who was interviewed by Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, said: "Of course I think the version I made is better, but the Hollywood version is pretty good too. [Scorsese] made the Hollywood version more attuned to American culture." Andy Lau,[33] one of the main actors in Infernal Affairs, when asked how the movie compares to the original, said: "The Departed was too long and it felt as if Hollywood had combined all three Infernal Affairs movies together."[34] Although Lau said the script of the remake had some "golden quotes", he also felt it had a bit too much profanity. He ultimately rated The Departed eight out of ten and said that the Hollywood remake is worth a view, though according to Lau's spokeswoman Alice Tam, he felt that the combination of the two female characters into one in The Departed was not as good as the original storyline.[35]

A few critics were disappointed in the film, including J. Hoberman of the Village Voice, who wrote: "Infernal Affairs was surprisingly cool and effectively restrained for HK action, but Scorsese raises the temperature with every ultraviolent interaction. The surplus of belligerence and slur reach near-Tarantinian levels—appropriate as he's staking a claim to QT's turf."[36]

Top ten lists edit

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006.[37] Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal, Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer named it one of the top ten films of 2006.[37] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times named it the best film of the 2000s.[38]

Accolades edit

At the 64th Golden Globe Awards on January 15, 2007, The Departed won one award for Best Director (Martin Scorsese), while being nominated for five other awards including Best Picture, Best Actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg), and Best Screenplay (William Monahan).[39]

At the 79th Academy Awards on February 25, 2007, The Departed won four Academy Awards: Best Picture (Graham King), Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), and Best Adapted Screenplay Writing (William Monahan). Mark Wahlberg was also nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance, but he lost to Alan Arkin for his role in Little Miss Sunshine.[40][41]

The film marked the first time Scorsese won an Oscar after five previous losses.[42] Many felt that he deserved it years earlier for prior efforts. Some felt he deserved it for his prior nominations and the win was described as a "Lifetime Achievement Award for a lesser film".[43] Scorsese himself joked that he won because: "This is the first movie I've done with a plot."[44]

At the 11th Satellite Awards on December 18, 2006, The Departed won awards for Best Ensemble, Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture, Drama, Best Screenplay – Adapted (William Monahan), and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Leonardo DiCaprio). In 2008, it was nominated for the American Film Institute Top 10 Gangster Films list.[45]

Home media edit

The Departed was released by Warner Home Video on DVD in 2007. The film is available in a single-disc full screen (1.33:1), single-disc widescreen (2.40:1) edition, and 2-disc special edition. The second disc contains deleted scenes; a feature about the influence of New York's Little Italy on Scorsese; a Turner Classic Movies profile; and a 21-minute documentary titled Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed[46] about the crimes that influenced Scorsese in creating the film, including the story of James "Whitey" Bulger, upon whom Jack Nicholson's character is based.[47]

Music edit

Soundtrack edit

The Departed: Music from the Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedNovember 7, 2006
GenreRock, country, pop
LabelWarner Sunset
ProducerJason Cienkus
Track Listing
1."Comfortably Numb"Roger Waters (Feat. Van Morrison & The Band)7:59
2."Sail On, Sailor"The Beach Boys3:18
3."Let It Loose"The Rolling Stones5:18
4."Sweet Dreams"Roy Buchanan3:32
5."One Way Out"The Allman Brothers Band4:57
6."Baby Blue"Badfinger3:36
7."I'm Shipping Up to Boston"Dropkick Murphys2:34
8."Nobody but Me"The Human Beinz2:18
9."Tweedle Dee"LaVern Baker3:10
10."Sweet Dreams (of You)"Patsy Cline2:34
11."The Departed Tango"Howard Shore, Marc Ribot3:32
12."Beacon Hill"Howard Shore, Sharon Isbin2:33
13."Gimme Shelter"The Rolling Stones3:18

Score edit

The film score for The Departed was written by Howard Shore and performed by guitarists Sharon Isbin, G. E. Smith, Larry Saltzman and Marc Ribot.[48] The score was recorded in Shore's own studio in New York State. The album, The Departed: Original Score, was released December 5, 2006 by New Line, and produced by Jason Cienkus.[49]

Scorsese described the music as "a very dangerous and lethal tango" and cited the guitar-based score of Murder by Contract and the zither in The Third Man as inspiration.[50]

Canceled sequel edit

Although many of the key characters in the film are dead by the end, there was a script written for a sequel. This was ultimately shelved due to the expense and Scorsese's lack of interest in creating a sequel.[51]

See also edit

References edit

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  2. ^ BBFC. "The Departed". Retrieved January 4, 2022. THE DEPARTED is a US gangster thriller in which a cop goes undercover with the Irish Mafia in Boston, who in turn have a informant working inside the police department.
  3. ^ Bolton, Josh (May 11, 2020). "Recommended Re-Viewing: Rewatching 'The Departed' Shows Why It's Scorsese's Best Film". Esquire. Retrieved January 4, 2022.
  4. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Review: Departed, The". Archived from the original on November 21, 2020. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  5. ^ "The Departed (2006) – Martin Scorsese". AllMovie. Archived from the original on February 2, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  6. ^ Kennedy, Helen (June 23, 2011). "Notorious gangster Whitey Bulger was inspiration for Jack Nicholson's character in 'The Departed'". Daily News. New York City: Tronc. Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e Kagan, Jeremy, ed. (2012). "Martin Scorsese, The Departed". Directors Close Up 2: Interviews with Directors Nominated for Best Film by the Directors Guild of America: 2006–2012. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-8108-8391-8. Archived from the original on April 24, 2016. Retrieved October 17, 2015.
  8. ^ "Infernal Affairs vs. the remake, The Departed". Archived from the original on October 23, 2013. Retrieved September 20, 2013.
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Departed movie review & film summary (2007) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  10. ^ "Departed wins Best Picture, Director, Editing, Adapted Screenplay". Retrieved May 20, 2023.
  11. ^ "2007". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on April 17, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
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  13. ^ a b c Hayes, Dade (December 14, 2006). "Brad Pitt's role as filmmaker threatens to eclipse his actorly exploits and tabloid profile". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Archived from the original on November 8, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
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  22. ^ Kauffmann, Stanley (October 30, 2006). "Themes and Schemes". The New Republic. Vol. 235, no. 18. Archived from the original on February 21, 2020.
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  25. ^ Rodriguez, Rene (January 11, 2007). "X marks the spot in 'The Departed'". The Miami Herald. Miami, Florida: McClatchy. Archived from the original on November 26, 2009. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
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  27. ^ Gray, Brandon (November 6, 2006). "'Borat' Bombards the Top Spot". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on November 9, 2018. Retrieved November 8, 2018.
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  45. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved August 19, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  46. ^ "Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and 'The Departed' (Video 2007)". IMDb. April 25, 2007. Archived from the original on February 6, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2016.
  47. ^ "Extra reveals true inspiration for Scorsese's Departed". The Virginian-Pilot. February 18, 2007. Archived from the original on September 21, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2013.
  48. ^ "The Departed - Original Score". Soundtrack.Net. Retrieved October 1, 2022.
  49. ^ "Howard Shore – The Departed Original Score". Discogs. Retrieved October 1, 2022.
  50. ^ Mcknight, Brent (February 27, 2016). "Martin Scorsese's The Departed Almost Got A Sequel, Here's Why It Didn't Happen". Cinema Blend. Archived from the original on March 23, 2019. Retrieved March 22, 2019.
  51. ^ "Martin Scorsese's The Departed Almost Got A Sequel, Here's Why It Didn't Happen". Cinema Blend. February 27, 2016. Archived from the original on March 23, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2019.

Further reading edit

External links edit