The Departed

The Departed (2006) movie poster

(2006) dir. Martin Scorsese
viewed: 10/13/06 at Century San Francisco Center

After a long week, I decided to try and leave work early and catch a movie.  It had been a long time since I’d made it to the cinema and I was just looking forward to seeing anything, and The Departed was one of the more appealing options.  I’ve always had an appreciation for Scorsese.  In fact, he was one of the first directors that I recognized as I got into film in my teens.  His recent work has seemed as though he’s been shooting for his true epic and I hadn’t seen any since Gangs of New York (2002), which I liked okay, though it was somewhat bloated.

The interesting perk was the only showing that was truly convenient from work was the brand-spanking-new Century San Francisco Center, the upgraded mall that just opened a week prior in downtown San Francisco in the location of the old downtown Emporium.  While racing over to the theater, I escalated up floor after floor of slick new mall-land.  It’s really kind of impressive.  But especially so at the top where the old Emporium dome (still intact — the only thing left from the old store) looms high above an open area quite spectacularly.  Just up one more set of escalators is the 9 screen cinema.

I won’t get into the whole tragedy of San Francisco’s progressive loss of small neighborhood cinemas since I have lived here.  And I am sure that this new one will be an added nail in the coffins of at least a couple.  It’s interestingly close to the Metreon, which is now an AMC theater, I think.  But the whole group of malls are all owned by Westfield.  Whatever.

Ah, the movie.  It’s pretty good, to be honest.  Certainly not in Scorsese’s top tier of work.  It’s pretty doubtful he’ll hit that level again.  But here, he’s made is best film in years, perhaps his best film since Goodfellas (1990) — I give that caveat since I haven’t seen them all.

Jack Nicholson is pretty amazing.  He’s mostly Jack, but he has a few scenes that he really delivers on.  The acting as a whole is pretty good and features lots of notable people.  I’d even say that Leonardo DiCaprio even does a pretty respectable job.  I’ll throw in kudos to both Mark Wahlberg (surprisingly good at times) and Ray Winstone, unsurprisingly and typically amazing.

Acting isn’t totally a compelling reason to draw me to a movie.  This film is an adaptation or re-make of Infernal Affairs (2002), a pretty good Hong Kong cop thriller that I caught on DVD in the time that I wasn’t updating this diary.  The re-make works, re-setting the location to Boston.  Boston is a real essential part of the film as all the characters are as much a part of the city as anything, all products of their world.  I don’t know Boston, and I understand a fair amount of the film was actually shot in New York.  It could be interesting from that perspective, I don’t know.

It’s a genre film with a good scenario, the story of two moles, one from the Boston crime world who is embedded in the Police Force to keep tabs on the cops and their movements and a cop who is enlisted to become a secretive spy in Nicholson’s house of crime, unknown to any but two police officers…in deep, deep cover.  It’s a compelling story and a telling contrast of morals of the criminal who becomes more and more influenced by the decency of the world of the police and the undercover cop who is forced to enact great brutality in the name of the greater good.  This ain’t an analysis.  It’s just an interesting tale.

It’s a genre film, a pretty big one, but a solid one.  It’s very good, but doesn’t necessarily achieve greatness.  It sometimes flirts with it.  Actually, the soundtrack kind of annoyed me.  I know that Scorsese’s use of music is considered to be one of his trademarks and it also has its moments, but here it feels kind of forced and overt.  It’s too much.  But overall, I’d recommend this as a pretty solid film outing.

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