Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
Robin Williams: The Big Interview
Kevin Feige:
My Movie Life

The Marvel supremo's pick of the flicks
Want To Be An Empire Journalist?
Find out how here
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select


FILM DETAILS
Certificate
TBC
Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio
Matt Damon
Mark Wahlberg
Jack Nicholson
Ray Winstone
Alec Baldwin
Gerard McSorley.
Directors
Martin Scorsese.
Screenwriters
William Monahan.
Running Time
TBC minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Gone Girl
4 Star Empire Rating
Honeymoon
3 Star Empire Rating
Last Impresario, The
3 Star Empire Rating
I Origins
4 Star Empire Rating
What We Did On Our Holiday
3 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari, The
5 Star Empire Rating
Two Days, One Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Some Like It Hot
5 Star Empire Rating
A Hard Day's Night
5 Star Empire Rating
Boyhood
5 Star Empire Rating

The Departed
DiCaprio is undercover in Boston-Irish gangland.


submit to reddit


Plot
The Boston police department manages to place young cadet Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) deep undercover in the city’s Irish-American gangland, run by the violent Frank Costello (Nicholson). But gangster Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) has also signed on to join the police force, planning to leak information back to Costello.


Review
The Departed
Browse more images »

Boston gangster Frank Costello puts his gun to the back of a woman’s head, pulls the trigger in the nonchalant manner with which he’d light a cigarette and, as she stumbles over her husband’s already-murdered corpse, casually reports, “She fell funny”. Obscene and dangerously insane, Costello is the driving force powering The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s return to his urban roots after a decade of period pieces. Then, he is played by Jack Nicholson. This marks the first teaming of America’s premier cinematic dynamos.
 
Working from a script by William Monahan (Kingdom Of Heaven), which transfers to Boston’s underworld the plot of hit Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, Scorsese has crafted a story that uses the same premise but feels like an entirely different beast. New or beefed up characters — notably the significantly enhanced role of Nicholson’s Costello compared to Eric Tsang’s Sam — will leave even fans of the original guessing exactly how events will unfold.
 
The set-up certainly draws out the best in a cast, led by Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, that’s probably unused to working in someone else’s shadow. Then, this is Jack Nicholson. DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, the cop working his way inside Costello’s gang; Damon is Colin Sullivan, the criminal’s protégé groomed from a young age to become a police mole, leaking information from inside the force.
 
In balancing his leading men against each other, Scorsese isn’t aiming for his usual criminal anthropology, painting a roots-up picture of Boston’s criminal world akin to GoodFellas’ New York. His focus is on trust and betrayal — how a man can keep his own identity when forced to live a life that is not his own. And DiCaprio and Damon counterbalance each other perfectly, managing (as Tony Leung and Andy Lau did in the original) to offer a compelling case study of two sides of the same coin, enemies defined by the same dilemma.
 
Police detective Sullivan at first appears supremely comfortable in the role he plays. As he climbs up the hierarchy of Boston’s police — and assembles what outwardly resembles a normal life — Sullivan manages to position himself so that he’s part of the task force put together to, of all things, catch Costello. The flipside is Costigan, a recently graduated cop whose family has loose ties to the Mob — which makes him the perfect informant to plant inside Costello’s gang. Alone, and avowing such bad blood doesn’t run in his veins, Costigan accepts a mission that will finally bring out a violent heritage he can’t stem. Comfortable with Scorsese after Gangs Of New York and The Aviator, DiCaprio gets the toughest role and delivers: his Billy Costigan is vitalised by a sense of panic and desperation that makes him more likeable than Damon, who is burdened with the more hypocritical part — Sullivan can’t hide from himself the fact that he’s a bad apple who lives on opportunities, not merits.
 
Yet, for all the youthful talent (and we also get Mark Wahlberg to bolster the film’s young-leaning credentials), The Departed belongs to Nicholson and Frank Costello, a man of unpredictable nature who doesn’t simply like violence, he is so steeped in it that it’s as natural as breathing. It’s hard to say which of his words came from Monahan’s script and which were added by the actor, who, in familiar fashion, gives the character as much leery charm as genuine danger, using fear (be it physical, verbal or sexual) as a tool to get precisely what he wants. In the course of a single phone conversation with Sullivan, he turns Damon’s character from alpha male to subservient puppy in a matter of moments. Then, he is Jack Nicholson. And when ‘Jack’ threatens to go over the top — and sometimes the actor’s too much for even himself to handle — Scorsese steps in to rap the back of his hand and keep the narrative firmly rooted in reality.
 
When it comes to the dynamics of filmmaking, Scorsese still has few peers — an elevator shoot-out in the third act could easily be this year’s tensest scene. The Departed is a sort of time machine: it recalls the richness and moral ambiguity of Hollywood’s ’70s, presenting stories about real people absent of turn-of-the-millennium concerns. They curse, have sex, lie, fight — and sometimes die horribly. This is a superbly crafted movie that holds its own alongside, say, Serpico and The French Connection, with their amoral characters and intense, realistic action. Yet, despite its many layers, the director clearly has no ambition to break new ground. The surprising moments of humour that leaven the story suggest that he’s having fun with a film that puts him back on the mean streets, but with no intention of detailing the cogs of the criminal world. It’s not GoodFellas or Casino, but, frankly, it doesn’t have to be. He’s got Jack Nicholson.


Verdict
Back to the streets and with a stellar cast, Martin Scorsese proves once again that he’s the master of urban storytelling — and of thrillingly violent filmmaking.


Reviewed by Roberto Sadovski

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Departed
Empire Star Rating

"I don't want to be a product of my environment..."

Brutally violent, cool and consistently thrilling, The Departed is a masterwork of pure cinema from the brilliant and unmatched Martin Scorsese. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by movienut707 at 12:02, 18 October 2013 | Report This Post


"Those fire fighters were a bunch of homo's".

If there's one thing that makes The Departed amazing ...its the presentation. Overall an outstanding film that, just like its director, is legendary. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jericho117 at 19:27, 14 October 2013 | Report This Post


The Departed

Excellent ( Leonardo Dicaprio should have lived ) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ruddick at 15:36, 17 April 2013 | Report This Post


The Departed Review

Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast that includes Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matt Damon, The Departed is a thoroughly engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality that has infused director Martin Scorcese's past triumphs. It's unbelievable that this was Martin's first Oscar Win. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 01:44, 19 February 2012 | Report This Post


4 stars isn't enough!

The Departed was terrific I loved every moment, everybody in the film did superb jobs and as a Hollywood remake its the best most original i've seen, watching this film really made me feel like a young kid on Christmas morning; Martin Scorsese is a legend, and Jack Nicholson as the gang leader is pure genious hes an acting god, this is pure perfection! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jordan thomas at 16:34, 08 January 2012 | Report This Post


Departed

Scorsese diserved his oscar ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by antosh25 at 04:32, 05 December 2011 | Report This Post


Film Coursework

I'm making a catalogue for my a level film coursework about Leonardo DiCaprio working with Martin Scorsese and wanted to reference this article, I was wondering when it was published? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by emosley at 19:09, 03 October 2011 | Report This Post


Film Coursework

I'm making a catalogue for my a level film coursework about Leonardo DiCaprio working with Martin Scorsese and wanted to reference this article, I was wondering when it was published? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by emosley at 18:38, 03 October 2011 | Report This Post


Film Coursework

I'm making a catalogue for my a level film coursework about Leonardo DiCaprio working with Martin Scorsese and wanted to reference this article, I was wondering when it was published? ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by emosley at 18:38, 03 October 2011 | Report This Post


SPOILERS BELOW

I'm writing to say that I thought the film was brilliant, one of leondardo dicaprio and jack nicholson's best acting, but a warning to people, if you have not seen this film please don't read the reviews below, because someone spoils the ending. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Charlotteknowsfilms at 18:31, 31 July 2011 | Report This Post


While many people will disagree with my view on this film I think this is Martin Scorsese best film to date. Don't jump to any conclusions though, I still believe that Casino, Goodfellas and Raging Bull are some of the finest films ever made (I cannot vouch for Mean Streets or L.A confidential however because as of this date I have yet to see them, although I have a great desire too). When making this decision I got Goodfellas, Raging Bull, Casino and The Departed all off my DVD shelf. I then ha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by scottpilgrim95 at 17:08, 18 April 2011 | Report This Post


Absolout Perfection

This is by far one of the best films I have ever seen and I can't believe Scorsese didn't win an Oscar before this. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by the film man at 11:18, 06 March 2011 | Report This Post


Great Film!

Not Scorsese's best but ONE of his best and it doesn't get much better than that! Great acting, screenplay, film making etc etc ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by linkinpython at 17:03, 05 January 2011 | Report This Post


RE: By far the best movie of 2006. (I think).

*spoilery*   Surprised - I watched it for the first time last week (despite buying the blu ray some 6 months ago) and thought it was deeply, deeply overrated. I'm not one of these cocksuckers that automatically blasts western remakes in favour of their Asian counterparts (I thought America Ring was far superior to the Japanese version) but Internal Affairs wipes the floor with it.   The need to do every scene shot-for-shot was ridiculous. Triads lobbing a police capt... More

Posted by DanCurley at 17:01, 08 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: By far the best movie of 2006. (I think).

Fantastic filming.....the ending blow me away ... More

Posted by Halloweenfreak at 15:36, 08 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: By far the best movie of 2006. (I think).

This movie is F***ING AWESOME!!!!!!!! I loved it sooo much.  It was fast, paced, quick, nailbiting, tense, suspenseful, and it was just mad.  They didn't waste any screen time, which was cool. The jokes were delieverd with impeccable timing and were just plain funny.  The swearing was necassary to emphasize the humour, it just worked with me on so many levels ... More

Posted by Wessing at 15:33, 08 July 2008 | Report This Post


RE: By far the best movie of 2006. (I think).

Agreed, he desereved his oscar nod. This film IMO is almost as good as goodfellas. Does anyone know whats going on with the rumored sequels ... More

Posted by alamo1 at 15:57, 20 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: By far the best movie of 2006. (I think).

Watched this again last night. One of the great things from this film that stands out for me is Mark Wahlberg's sharp tongued character, he's brilliant & is Marky Mark's best bit of acting to date IMO. ... More

Posted by pauljthomas at 12:35, 19 June 2008 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

The Departed is amazing. Wahlberg is fantastic but the dialogue from Alec Baldwin reminds me of Glengarry Glen Ross. For me the acting was at it's best from these two along with Nicholson and Sheen. As much as I like Dicaprio and Damon they just didn't do it for me this time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wackojacko at 22:06, 12 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: cold lands Overlong, mediocre, poorly written & unevenly acted. Yep, that's the latest movie from Martin Scorsese aka n Cinema's Most Overrated Director.omething as forgettable as artedst Picture & Best Director is testament yet again to the Academy's uncanny ability to award directors for some of their weakest work. Oh, & sincere thanks to the posters above me for their extravagently lunatic hyperbole in praise of The Departed. Most amusing. orry, i completely disagree with... More

Posted by curtain twitcher at 14:56, 12 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The Departed

really good. I loved when nicholson is having breakfast with that hand on the table. and I loved even more to see Di caprio's face... mark walhberg was excellent, but don't you ever wear that hair do... ... More

Posted by vernk at 13:43, 12 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The Departed

It was fucking excellent! Mark Wahlberg was great in it and Martin Sheen was pretty good as well. The script was funny as hell and really slick and the acting in general was brilliant.It may not be Scorcesse's best flick (in comparision to Goodfellas) but it has got to be one of the best films of 2006, if you love Scorcesse you should love this. ... More

Posted by curtain twitcher at 21:28, 09 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The Departed

L: jrewing1000 I agree. I thought The Departed was better - Parts of Infernal Affairs were cheesy and cliched. Scorcese has taken an already good story and turned it into a deeper, more intense, more elaborate story. His story is not just about two characters, but a whole handful. see both movies and make your own mind up, but my favourite is the remake. (strange, I usually prefer originals!) sp; But The Departed's ending was fucked up. I'm of the opinion that if you had s... More

Posted by KennyM at 13:36, 09 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: The Departed

I agree. I thought The Departed was better - Parts of Infernal Affairs were cheesy and cliched. Scorcese has taken an already good story and turned it into a deeper, more intense, more elaborate story. His story is not just about two characters, but a whole handful. see both movies and make your own mind up, but my favourite is the remake. (strange, I usually prefer originals!) ... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 15:50, 07 April 2007 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

So i finally watched Infernal Affairs - the film that The Departed is a remake of (as if you didn't already know), and I have to say I thought The Departed was better. Can someone please explain why Infernal Affairs is so superior, most people think so but I have to disagree. I thought it was too simplistic, with scenes like the death of the police captain being so overly done with appallingly cheesy music, I thought the big difference was that The Departed was much more subtle and intense, mor... More

Posted by jrewing1000 at 15:41, 07 April 2007 | Report This Post


More user comments

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Making Of The Lost Pilot: An Oral History
The cast and crew look back at the epic season opener…

Empire's Gone Girl Review
Our official verdict on David Fincher's adaptation of the best-selling novel

The Future Of Film: The Streaming Services Will Be Major Studios
(Or how Hollywood will have to start worrying about Netflix)

The Empire Podcast #129: Liam Neeson Interview
Plus Max Irons, Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth, Holliday Grainger and Jessica Brown Findlay drop by to talk The Riot Club

The Future Of Film: We'll Be Watching Films In Virtual Reality
Immerse cinema aims to become the must-have experience for the filmgoers of the future

The Future Of Film: Cinema Will Cross The Uncanny Valley
The future of VFX, from believable digital humans to underwater mocap

The Future Of Film: There Will Be Another Indie Golden Age
Independent producers are growing from micro-budgets to something a lot bigger

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 6 Issues Of Empire For Only £15!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 6 issues of Empire for just £15!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)