Feb 23, 2007

The Departed

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

Just nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, The Departed gets a DVD transfer that enhances its rep as a new crime classic. Picture and sound are top of the line, and the extras, including nine deleted scenes that are good enough to have stayed in the film, kick the whole experience up a notch. The vital, visceral filmmaking comes courtesy of Martin Scorsese, his talent shining here on its highest beams. And William Monahan’s script, adapted with resonant power and wit from the 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs , takes New Yorker Scorsese to a new locale -- the mean streets of Boston. In a large and pitch-perfect cast, Leonardo DiCaprio excels as a cop pretending to be a hood and Matt Damon matches him as a hood who’s infiltrated the Massachusetts State Police. Both are trapped in circumstances where you can't tell the good from the bad. All the actors bring their A games, notably Mark Wahlberg as a hard-assed cop and Vera Farmiga as a police shrink. As for Jack Nicholson, he blows the roof off as an Irish mob kingpin. Too much? Some think so. Personally, I couldn’t get enough of the devil in Jack. From the cinematography of Michael Ballhaus and the editing of Thelma Schoonmaker to Scorsese's typically astute soundtrack choices (the Stones, John Lennon, Nas, Van Morrison, the Beach Boys and Patsy Cline), The Departed keeps coming at you with bruising brilliance. It’s a defiantly uncompromised vision of a society rotting from the inside.

DVD EXTRAS: Besides the deleted scenes, all introduced by Scorsese, there’s a fine, flinty segment on Whitey Bulger, the Boston gangster on whom Nicholson’s character is based. Bulger went on the lam in 1995 and is No. 2, after Osama Bin Laden, on the FBI’s most wanted list. If you think Jack is over the top, get a load of Whitey.

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