When you wear masks for so long that you begin to forget who you are, when the seams of the mask begin to blend into your face, where do you go from there? Who are we? And what do our actions really say about us? Martin Scorsese's The Departed attempts to answer these questions.
You are born into a class and who you become is entirely dependent on that fact. Who your father was, determines who you will be. This is perhaps the more subtle version of what Scorsese was going for with Gangs of New York. Duties, friendship, loyalty all becomes blurred together as the three collide in an ending that leaves no question that The Departed earned Martin Scorsese his well-deserved Oscar.
The Departed centers around two men who are radically different from their public personas. Will Costigan Jr. (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a Massachusetts State Trooper trainee who manages to permeate himself into Frank Costello's gang. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) is a SIU detective that Costello took in and has trained to work for him since he was a small boy. The film is intense, and while it clocks in at more than two hours you would never know it by the way time flies by.
Good and evil are handled delicately because while we identify with Costigan, he still commits crimes and Sullivan, while a rat, keeps Sullivan in check to a degree. Neither men are what they make themselves out to be. They can only exist in the world created for them and live in fear that those worlds created may soon be shattered.
It was a dream of sorts getting to see Jack Nicholson work with Martin Scorsese, and teaming up with one of my favorite actors of this generation in Leonardo DiCaprio was icing on the cake. Mark Wahlberg earned an Academy Award nomination for his work and he has the best lines to justify it. A staple of this decade for the crime genre. The Departed, may not be up to snuff in the eyes of some Scorsese purists, but I'm willing to say it's his finest work of the past twenty years.