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The Departed


31st March

The Departed

I really expected this to be a four-star movie, really. I mean, it's Scorsese. Cape Fear was awesome. So was Goodfellas. But near the third and final act, some questions started popping up in my head:

First off, why did Billy trust Sullivan so easily? Even I wouldn't be quick enough to suspect him had I not known he's Costello's rat considering that a) it's well-known that there's a rat in the police department, and b) someone just coincidentally calls me on the phone of my now dead informant. I would have suspected that this is the same rat who might have tailed Queenan somehow and murdered him.

However, I didn't really mind that Billy began talking to Sullivan instead of just hanging up like he initially did, because think about it: Billy didn't know that Queenan was pegged as the rat, so for all he knew, it could either be Costello's rat on the other line, or it could just be some officer trying to reach him after being informed about the existence of an undercover cop.

That being said, I still think Billy was too quick to trust Sullivan, but that's largely a subjective point (not to mention that Billy's portrayed as kinda dumb, to be honest), so let's move on.

Why didn't anyone make a big fuss about the murder of a police captain? I'm sure the police department would love to use the murder of a captain as an excuse to haul Costello's entire band of hooligans downtown and do some hard questioning. Was it because they were two different departments? The FBI and the undercover department? If so, I still find it kinda weird that they couldn't do any crack-down at all, considering that it was an officer who's ranked "Captain".

The next one's a big one: why didn't Billy just go out and yell, "FKING SULLIVAN IS THE RAT!" Yeah, because the possibility of him deleting your personal records didn't seem likely at all, no no. You have to go all secretive like a ninja and scheme a trap instead of telling any single officer in the police department you are in. Even if it's unbelievable that Sullivan might be the rat, at least show us Billy telling somebody, anybody. Even if his word against Sullivan might not have been taken seriously, at least show us something!

There wasn't even any implication that this plan might not work! Billy's got the hard evidence at hand, I doubt that some explanation wouldn't allow the other officers to put two and two together. These are supposed to be detectives, right? You know, sleuths like Sherlock Holmes? Or has the title been sullied by too much donuts on their free time?

And finally, it was kinda easy to spot Billy out as the rat, to be honest, especially after Sullivan had spoke to a young Bostonian in his twenties. I think that at least scratches off a few people in Costello's dirty dozen. And you know, it did seem like just a dozen people following Costello around, most of them old guys.

Though to be fair, Sullivan did notice that little note about Costello being an FBI informant in the very next scene, so... eh.

Now with the apparent plot-holes out of the way (or I might just really be mistaken, in which case feel free to correct me), there are a few other things I would like to address.

For starters, the acting. I love Jack Nicholson (especially the rat-face that he made), but there were parts when I felt like Jack was playing the eccentric villain he seems to be often type-cast in. Leonardo was FABULOUS. I loved the chemistry he shared with Vera Farmiga. I mean, even though Sullivan is the love interest of Madolyn in this movie, Billy hits off with her much better, while the supposedly 'ongoing relationship' with Sullivan seems fake (which works in effect to implying how pretentious Sullivan is as a person, I suppose). And even though Matt Damon felt like he was type-cast as another Jason Bourne here, it works in his favor because the apparent innocence of his character really sells the parallels between the antagonist's baby-face and the protagonist's thug-face (Billy). The same goes for Wahlberg, who plays the mean ***hole kind of character that goes well with that face you just want to punch... not implying anything, ahem. Martin Sheen is playing Martin Sheen, so let's move on.

The overall mafia theme of the movie, or just the mafia theme of any western gangster movies? I'm afraid I can't relate much, nor am I that knowledgeable about western gangsters to comment on that. Nevertheless, I love the parallels shared between Billy and Sullivan, "two sides of the same coin" as Leo so eloquently put it in an interview. Strangely enough, this is not the plot-centric convoluted movie many people have misconceived this movie to be, or rather, not strangely, this is a character-study, much like many of Scorsese's masterpieces. Though the plot is easy enough to understand, watching these two characters try and escape being made as the rat was pretty interesting to say the least, especially when you deal with the question of "Who is the bad cop here? The violent thug in undercover or the pretentious romantic?"

Despite the thrilling moments when you try and figure out who's going to come out on top of the other, some of the abovementioned flaws just hold this film back from captivating me as a Scorsese film might have.

On a final note, Dignam's sudden appearance at the end isn't really a plot-hole. Dignam could have been informed anytime by either Madolyn through instructions given by Billy, or by Trooper Brown ("I told you to bring Dignam!") before he confronted Billy on the roof.

Now to watch Infernal Affairs and see if it is just as good as the remake.