Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Movie Review: The Departed.

This movie is the filmic equivalent of "The Dream Team"--the USA basketball version, not the OJ trial team.

It features these superstars of the profession: Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Walberg, Alec Baldwin, and (director) Martin Scorcese. Martin Sheen's in it too.

However, I think the "Magic Johnson" of this squad is the writer. The story is fascinatingly intricate--with crosses and double-crosses arising quicker than lawsuits over tainted spinach. I'm not giving too much away when I tell you that there are two factions--cops and robbers--where each group has placed a "mole" in the other. This set-up makes for a lot of twists and turns in wonderfully complex writing.

Also, lest one forgets that Scorcese is behind the camera he pulls out tricks reminding you he is there. For example, a song abruptly ends when a door is opened. Speaking of the soundtrack, it is loaded with Rolling Stones songs for some reason even though the story is evidently set in the present day. Similarly, the movie bursts with heavy language and violence befitting standard Scorcese fare.

With regard to the acting, DiCaprio stands out, which is saying something when his "teammates" are the acting equivalents of MJ and Hakeem. DiCaprio's intensity and malleability are remarkable. While some have raved about Jack's prospects for Oscar gold, I don't think so. In some respects I thought Nicholson gave better performances in Anger Management and even Something’s Got to Give.

Alec Baldwin and Mark Walberg wade into smaller roles and wring every bit of humor out of them. Nicely done.

If you can withstand the assault of language and violence, and enjoy superb writing and acting, this film should be seen as soon as practicable.

The Departed receives an “A-.”