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The Departed

The Departed is a 2006 American crime thriller film directed by Martin Scorsese. The screenplay by William Monahan was based on the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs.[1] The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg, with Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, and Alec Baldwin in supporting roles.

It won several awards, including four Oscars at the 79th Academy Awards; Best Picture, Best Director (Scorsese), Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Wahlberg was nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

The film takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, where Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello plants Colin Sullivan as an informant within the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the police assign undercover cop William "Billy" Costigan to infiltrate Costello's crew. When both sides realize the situation, each man attempts to discover the other's true identity before his own cover is blown.



Colin Sullivan (Damon) is introduced to organized crime by Irish mobster Frank Costello (Nicholson) in the Irish neighborhood of South Boston. Costello trains him to become a mole inside the Massachusetts State Police. Sullivan is accepted into the Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on organized crime. Before he graduates from the police academy, Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is asked by Captain Queenan (Sheen) and Staff Sergeant Dignam (Wahlberg) to go undercover, as his family ties to organized crime make him a perfect infiltrator. He drops out of the academy and does time in prison on a fake assault charge to increase his credibility.

As both infiltrate their respective organizations, Sullivan begins a romance with psychiatrist Madolyn Madden (Farmiga). Costigan sees her for his probation and also develops a relationship with her. After Costello escapes a sting operation, both moles become aware of the other's existence. Sullivan is told to find the "rat" and asks Costello for information to determine who is the informer within his crew. Costigan follows Costello into a movie theater where Costello gives Sullivan an envelope. Costigan then chases Sullivan through Chinatown. When it is over, neither man knows the other's identity. Sullivan has Queenan tailed to a meeting with Costigan. Costello's men go in and Queenan is killed. When they exit, Costigan pretends he has come to join them. Later, Costello's henchman, Fitzgibbons (O'Hara), reveals that Delahunt, a crew member, was an undercover cop.

Using Queenan's phone, Sullivan reaches Costigan, who refuses to abort his mission. Sullivan learns of Costello's role as an informant for the FBI from Queenan's diary, causing him to worry about his identity being revealed. With Costigan's help, Costello is traced to a cocaine drop-off, where a gunfight erupts between his crew and police, resulting in most of the crew being killed. Costello, confronted by Sullivan, admits he is an occasional FBI informant. Sullivan then shoots him multiple times. With Costello dead, Sullivan is applauded the next day by everyone on the force. In good faith, Costigan comes to him for restoration of his true identity, but notices an envelope containing details of Costello's men on Sullivan's desk and flees. Knowing he has been found out, Sullivan erases all records of Costigan from the police computer system.

Madolyn tells Sullivan that she is pregnant, but does not reveal who the father is. Later, she discovers a package from Costigan containing a CD with recordings of Costello's conversations with Sullivan. Sullivan walks in as she is listening and tries unsuccessfully to assuage her suspicions. He contacts Costigan, who reveals that Costello recorded every conversation he had with Sullivan. Costello's attorney left Costigan in possession of the recordings and he intends to implicate Sullivan. They agree to meet at the building where Queenan died.

On the roof, Costigan catches Sullivan off-guard and hand-cuffs him. As Costigan had secretly arranged, Officer Brown appears on the roof as well. Shocked, Brown draws his gun on Costigan, who attempts to justify his actions by exposing Sullivan as the rat. Costigan asks Brown why Dignam did not accompany him, but Brown does not answer. Costigan leads Sullivan to the elevator. When it reaches the ground floor, Costigan is shot in the head by Officer Barrigan, who then shoots Brown and reveals to Sullivan that Costello had more than one mole in the police. When Barrigan turns, Sullivan shoots him in the head. At police headquarters, Sullivan identifies Barrigan as the mole and has Costigan posthumously given the Medal of Merit.

At Costigan's funeral, Sullivan and Madolyn stand at the grave. Sullivan attempts to talk to her, but she ignores him. Later, Sullivan enters his apartment, where Dignam, wearing hospital footies and surgical gloves, is aiming a silenced pistol at him. Dignam shoots Sullivan in the temple and exits the apartment.



Film critic Stanley Kauffmann describes a major theme of The Departed as one of the oldest in drama the concept of identity and how it "affects one's actions, emotions, self-assurance and even dreams."[2]

The father-son relationship is a motif throughout the film. Costello acts as a father figure to both Sullivan and Costigan while Queenan acts as Costello's foil in the role of father-figure, presenting both sides of the Irish-American father archetype.[3] Sullivan refers to Costello as 'Dad' whenever he calls him to inform him of police activities.


The Departed was highly anticipated, and was released on October 6, 2006 to universal acclaim. The film is one of the highest-rated wide release films of 2006 on Rotten Tomatoes at 93%.[4]

Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "If they're lucky, directors make one classic film in their career. Martin Scorsese has one per decade (Taxi Driver in the '70s, Raging Bull in the '80s, Goodfellas in the '90s). His 2006 Irish Mafia masterpiece kept the streak alive."[5]

Online critic James Berardinelli awarded the film four stars out of four, praising it as "an American epic tragedy." He went on to compare the film favorably to the onslaught of banality offered by American studios in recent years. "The movies have been in the doldrums lately. The Departed is a much needed tonic," he wrote. He went on to claim that the film deserves to be ranked alongside Scorsese's past successes, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and Goodfellas.[6]

Andrew Lau, the co-director of Infernal Affairs, who was interviewed by Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, said, "Of course I think the version I made is better, but the Hollywood version is pretty good too. [Scorsese] made the Hollywood version more attuned to American culture." Andy Lau,[7] one of the main actors in Infernal Affairs, when asked how the movie compares to the original, said, "The Departed was too long and it felt as if Hollywood had combined all three Infernal Affairs movies together."[8] Lau pointed out that the remake featured some of the "golden quotes" of the original but did have much more swearing. He ultimately rated The Departed 8/10 and said that the Hollywood remake is worth a view, though "the effect of combining the two female characters in the [later film] into one isn't as good as in the original," according to Lau's spokeswoman Alice Tam.[9]

Top ten lists

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2006.[10] Carrie Rickey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal, Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle, and Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer named it one of the top ten films of 2006.[10] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times named it the best film of 2000s.

Box office

The film grossed $26,887,467 in its opening weekend, becoming the third Scorsese film to debut at number one. The film saw small declines in later weeks, remaining in the list of top ten films for seven weeks. Budgeted at $90 million, the film grossed $289,835,021 worldwide of which $132,384,315 was from North America, becoming one of the most commercially successful of Scorsese's career.


The film won four Academy Awards at the 79th Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Film Editing (Thelma Schoonmaker), and Best Adapted Screenplay (William Monahan). Mark Wahlberg was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance, but he lost to Alan Arkin for his role in Little Miss Sunshine. The film marked the first time Scorsese won an Oscar; many felt that he deserved it years earlier for prior efforts.[11] Some have even gone further, calling it a Lifetime Achievement Award for a lesser film.[12] Scorsese himself stated that he won because: "This is the first movie I've done with a plot."[13]

In 2008, The Departed was nominated for AFI's Top 10 Gangster Films list.[14]


There were two albums released for The Departed, one presenting the original score composed for the movie by Howard Shore, and the other featuring earlier recordings, mostly pop/rock songs, which were used on the soundtrack.


Once again Robbie Robertson had a hand in picking out the music. The film opens with "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones ("Let it Loose" also appears later on), and prominently plays "I'm Shipping Up to Boston" by Dropkick Murphys with lyrics written by Woody Guthrie, which gained the band some popularity. The film features the live cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" by Roger Waters, Van Morrison, and Rick Danko, Levon Helm, and Garth Hudson of The Band from the 1990 Berlin Wall Concert.

Although "Gimme Shelter" is featured twice in the film, the song does not appear on the album soundtrack. Also heard in the movie but not featured on the soundtrack is "Thief's Theme" by Nas, "Well Well Well" by John Lennon, "Bang Bang" by Joe Cuba, and the Act II Sextet from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor (Which is also Costello's ringtone in the film).

The film closes with a cover of Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams," by Roy Buchanan.


The film score for The Departed was written by Howard Shore and performed by guitarists Sharon Isbin, G. E. Smith, Larry Saltzman and Marc Ribot. The score was recorded in Shore's own studio in New York State.

Home media

The Departed was released by Warner Brothers on DVD on February 13, 2007 in Region 1 format and on February 19, 2007 in Region 2 format, and was released on March 14, 2007 in Region 4 format. The film is available in a single-disc full screen (1:33:1), single-disc widescreen (2:40:1) edition, and 2-disc special edition. The second disc of this film predominately contains features that concerned the crimes that influenced Scorsese with deleted scenes being the only feature that are actually film related. The Region 1 version has three available audio tracks: English, Spanish, and French (all of which are in Dolby Digital 5.1), and three subtitle tracks (English, Spanish, French). The film was released on HD DVD and Blu-ray at the same time as the standard-definition DVD. The 2-Disc Special Edition was packaged in a Limited Edition Steelbook. It marked the first time that an Oscar winning Best Picture was released to the home video market in DVD format only, as VHS was totally phased out by the start of 2006.

Spin-off sequel

In February 2007, Mark Wahlberg had an interview with Empire about The Departed 2. Although the film has not been greenlit, Wahlberg stated that there might be a sequel focusing on his character, Dignam, with Robert De Niro potentially playing a corrupted senator. He also stated that William Monahan is busy penning the script.[15] However, the film was said to be on hold, due to producer Brad Grey's involvement, as he's now the head of Paramount Pictures and the film is a Warner Bros. project.[16]

In June 2010, Wahlberg and Monahan still expressed interest in a sequel, which was said to be projected for a 2012 release date.[17]


Throughout the film, Scorsese used Xs mostly shown in the background to mark characters for death; examples include shots of Costigan walking through the airport while talking to Sgt. Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), Queenan falling to his death (on the building glass windows as Queenan falls to ground), and Sullivan returning to his apartment at the end of the movie (on the hallway floors). This is a homage to Howard Hawks' classic 1932 film Scarface.[18]

See also


Further reading

External links

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