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The Departed (2006)
Rated R

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, and Matt Damon

Rating:
*****
out of
*****

Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is the descendant of a long line of thugs and criminals. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) grew up under the tutelege of crime boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). For completely different reasons, each of the youths decide to join the Massachusetts State Police.

Upon graduation from the police academy, both men are given different assignments that will ultimately end up pitting them against each other. Based on the Hong Kong crime classic Infernal Affairs, Martin Scorsese's The Departed is a wildly entertaining and incredibly violent tale of how the lines between good and evil can easily be blurred.

Scorsese, who's been hit-and-miss since the late 1980s, finally bats one out of the park with this movie. The Departed manages to surpass his last bona-fide masterpiece, a little movie called Goodfellas.

The Departed has a lot of the same ingredients as Goodfellas: a stellar cast, believable and interesting characters, and some wickedly funny dialogue. What The Departed has in its favor is a break from formula. While Goodfellas was a great film about the mob, it was fairly conventional in its plot structure. The Departed takes chances and keeps you guessing until the end of the film. (It's also why I'm not going into too much detail about the plot.)

Also helping to power The Departed to masterpiece status are the incredible performances. Having a great cast is one thing, but Scorsese elicits note-perfect characterizations from Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, and relative newcomer Vera Farmiga, who plays a key role in the lifes of the two young policemen as a psychologist. The supporting cast, which includes Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, and Martin Sheen, is equally impressive. If justice is to be done, there will be several Academy Award nominations from this film's corral of actors.

Count The Departed among the great crime dramas of all-time.

Trivia: As research for his character's occupation, Matt Damon worked with a Massachusetts State Police unit out of Boston. He accompanied them on routine patrols, participated in a drug raid and was taught proper police procedures like how to pat down a suspect. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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