Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day 309: The Departed (2006)

R, 2 hr. 31 min.  Directed by: Martin Scorsese.  Release Date: October 6, 2006.   DVD Release Date: February 13, 2007.

There was a time when I would have avoided this movie like the plague for two reasons:  the first was that until I saw We Own the Night, I'd never seen a police movie that wasn't Police Academy that I liked.  The second was that, at this point in history, I'd never seen Leonardo DiCaprio where I hadn't wanted to beat him senseless before the movie was out.  It wasn't so much that I didn't think he had talent, because I could see it lurking under all that nonsense he was spewing out in between passionate glances and what felt like the pause before a dance routine. 

Watching The Departed was a little bit like visiting another planet.  This wasn't a cop movie of the sort that could have been an episode of Law & Order or one that made light of the work that the police actually do.  This was a complicated story, but only in the sense of the internal struggle that goes on in each of the primary characters.  The cast is fantastic, which helps that internal struggle force its way to the forefront of the story.  The real tweak in the system, the one that keeps this from being like a number of other cop movies that I've learned to like since this came out, is that the characters played by Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio are mirror images in terms of circumstance, but they aren't so different.

There's a lot going on, some of which seems improbable in the face of of the evolution of the storyline.  In the case of Leonardo DiCaprio's role, I both get and don't believe the idea he was so deep undercover that only a few people actually knew who he really was.  Not only would that be insanely reckless for the officer taking on that duty, you would think there would be a system in place... something like a reverse Witness Protection Program to ensure that these officers don't get hosed in their efforts to serve and protect.

The interplay of moral decision-making and how each of the players manages to sleep at night makes all the drama and kept my interest.  It's hard to beat that.