Thursday, June 9, 2011

2006: The Departed

New cop Billy Costigan goes undercover to try to catch notorious mob boss Frank Costello, but Costello has spies of his own in the police department.

Most of this movie is pretty good.  The dramatic camera angles and lighting perfectly enhance the suspense of an already intriguing story.  The performances are brilliant, which is only to be expected with such talented actors as Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio (even though he still kind of looks like he's 14).  The characters are so real that one can't help feeling for them, even the bad guys.  The dialogue has way too much profanity, but it kind of adds to the character development (although using the f-word a quarter of the number of times they did would have been too many).  And as soon as the characters are established, the audience is hooked.  Who's going to be found out first?  What's going to happen next?  It's so intense in parts that it's almost unwatchable, but never quite crosses that line until the end.

I'm just going to be blatantly honest: I think the end of this movie is stupid.  I'm sure there's a very good reason why it ends the way it does, but it seems to me like the filmmakers couldn't think of a good ending, so they just decided to kill everyone.  After two and a half hours of buildup, we're left with, "And pretty much everybody gets shot, the end."  Seriously?  I guess the point is that you shouldn't get involved with the mob, and I understand that it makes sense for people to die in this situation, but it kind of happens out of the blue.  Since the story is so perfectly orchestrated up to that point, it's incredibly disappointing to be left with the feeling that no one could come up with a good way to end it.

So if I had made this movie, I would have held back on the profanity and put more effort into the ending.  But I didn't.  And the vast majority of this film is extraordinarily well-done, and I'm sure that modern action-thriller fans love it.  But it's not going on my list of favorite movies of all time.

Coming up: No Country for Old Men

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