This has been a stellar year for movies. There has been an unfathomable amount of crap ([i]X-Men: The Last Stand[/i], M[i]iami Vice[/i], The B[i]reak-Up[/i], and others), but then again, this is the year where we have seen [i]Clerks II[/i], [i]United 93[/i], [i]Little Miss Sunshine[/i], Brick, [i]A Scanner Darkly[/i], [i]V for Vendetta[/i], [i]Slither[/i], [i]The Descent[/i], [i]Superman Returns[/i], and many others. We've got a little less than two months to go still, but I think I can crown 2006's undisputed winner, and it's going to be super-duper-hard choosing this or [i]Clerks II[/i] as the best movie of 2006.
Martin Scorsese's [i]The Departed[/i] is a comeback if I've ever seen one. This guy is the undisputed modern legend of American cinema, influencing many film nerds like us since the 70's. This is his best movie since [i]Goodfellas[/i] sixteen years ago, and that movie was a godsend on its own (my #2 favorite movie of all time). Rightfully so, this is Scorsese going back to what he does best. This is his first "gangster" movie since [i]Casino[/i], and once we get to this movie's territory, the plot's action unfolds in a rapid-fire, complex manner, and once it steps on the gas, it never lets up. It begins like you want it to (to the point of using "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones a few times during it), it feels like you want it to, it acts like you want it to.
This movie is f**king violent. Like, if [i]Taxi Driver[/i]'s climactic bloodbath or the cornfield scene in [i]Casino[/i] really pushed your senses, wait till you see some of the stuff unleashed in this movie. When someone gets shot, this guy makes sure we see some head-on impact akin to last year's [i]A History of Violence[/i]. When you think the violence is going to happen, it's not; when you're relaxed to know that the scene you're watching is more plot-driven, the violence comes out of left field and grabs you by the throat. The script was written by William Monahan ([i]Kingdom of Heaven[/i]), and even if that didn't fly over that well critically and commercially, his ear for complex lingo among the film's Bostonian underbelly channels the grittiest twang of Quentin Tarantino and David Mamet.
As for the performances, holy s**tcakes is this movie an acting powerhouse! Leonardo DiCaprio cuts the crap that weighed him down in other movies (*cough* [i]The Beach[/i] *cough*) and plays a good cop whose undercover personality is hindered by one hell of a nasty temper (note to [i]Titanic[/i] haters: I am not overhyping his undeniable presence of being a bad motherf**ker in this movie). All of you [i]Team America[/i] lovers (me included) will be surprised to see Matt Damon succeed well as a conniving undercover criminal with his corruption as foreseeable as the way he enforces the law. Jack Nicholson is still one of the best actors ever, and Frank Costello is as good (and psychotic) a character as the edge he had playing Randle P. McMurphy and Jack Torrance; he plays Costello so well to the point that it would be impossible to see another person play the part, giving the character an egotistical, flippant muster that not even Robert De Niro or Dennis Hopper could give off. Basically, Nicholson owns Frank Costello like you'd protect an antique car you owned, and he could very well earn at least another Oscar nomination for this performance (as of now, he's my personal frontrunner for the Best Supporting Actor award). Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin make great authorities for the cops, the beautiful Vera Farmiga should prove soon that she's the next big actress in film in playing the precinct's criminal psychologist, Ray Winstone is chilling as Costello's right-hand man. But my last nod goes out to Mark Wahlberg. The guy gets a lot of hate for getting roles for being Marky Mark, but we should also remember that he was fantastic as busboy-cum-porn-star Dirk Diggler in [i]Boogie Nights[/i], his sardonic firefighter in [i]I Heart Huckabees[/i] was a deadpan treat, he played off George Clooney and Ice Cube coolly in the underrated [i]Three Kings[/i]. His role as Dignam, the vulgar staff sergeant whose putdowns are as volatile as they are darkly comic, is the scene stealer of the film, and the way he opposes the straightforward approach of Martin Sheen's by-the-books police captain is priceless.
So yeah.[i] The Departed[/i] probably won't scorch the box office like [i]Pirate$ of the Caribbean Part Deux[/i] did, but this movie is going somewhere really good. This might as well get Marty Scorsese his goddamned Oscar that he got royally screwed out of winning for [i]Goodfellas[/i] (by Kevin Costner, no less) because you just can't screw this guy over. And considering this movie is nothing short of off-the-hook, orgasmically freakin' sweet, it will be worth it.
Thumbs up. Way, way, way, way, way, way, way, way up. A+++ infinity plus. Six stars out of four. 19 out of 10. A movie so good that if you took a course in nuclear physics, you could bypass all of the work, give the professor a DVD of this movie, and you'd get an A. That good.
[b]**** (out of ****) [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/smilies/fresh.gif[/img][/b]