The Sunday Mail
THERE is simply nothing good on television these days, so I decided to do something different for this week’s review.
By good, I mean new.
I recently came across the expression “if you stand too close to the elephant, you don’t see the elephant”.
It means for one to get a better understanding of a situation, they need to step back and get a better view or understanding.
This changed my perception of Martin Scorsese.
I now believe he could very well be the Albert Einstein of modern cinema, with “The Departed” (2006) being his greatest creation.
Everything about the movie, from the simple plot, star-studded cast to the performances, gave a vintage Scorsese.
Set in Boston, United States of America, during the late eighties, organised crime has reached its peak and at the top of that mountain is Irish mob boss Frank Costello, played by the incomparable Jack Nicholson.
Costello comes up with an ingenious plan to groom an impressionable kid, Collin Sullivan (Matt Damon), and plants him as a mole within Massachusetts State Police.
He rises in the ranks and feeds Costello with information, all the while keeping the police off his scent.
Elsewhere, another police recruit with mob ties, William “Billy” Costigan Jr (Leonardo DiCaprio), is planted in the mob to build a case against Costello.
Much like Sullivan, Costigan Jr rises through the ranks and enters into Costello’s inner circle, collecting information up to the point where it is make or break for both the case and the two respective moles.
Now, there are a few things that today’s filmmakers can learn both from Scorsese’s body of work and the film itself.
First, and most important, a hero’s strength is connected to the antagonist he opposes, and one can never go wrong by taking time to create well-rounded characters.
This is why Marvel’s Thanos was so ground-breaking.
The big bad of the Marvel Universe was a creation that was more than a decade in the making, with over 12 movies.
While his actions were wrong, his motives were not entirely misplaced.
The same goes for Costello who, despite having the wrong motives and actions, is ultimately saved by his fatherly bond with Sullivan, who he had genuine affection for.
Our protagonist, Costigan Jr, is another multi-dimensional character.
He ventures into law enforcement as a way of atoning for his family crimes.
His dark family history makes him the ideal candidate to infiltrate the mob.
The trio of Nicholson, Damon and DiCaprio all put up stellar performances, with their dialogues or run-ins (as in the case of Damon and DiCaprio) being some of the best scenes of the movie.
While he did finally get his Oscar for his works in the “Revenant”, I still maintain that DiCaprio should have received at the very least three Oscars for his roles in “Blood Diamond”, “Wolf of Wallstreet” and “The Departed”.
Special mention goes to Mark Wahlberg, who I am now also convinced does his best works when he is shouting out his lines and being a total head-case.
Overall, this is as close to perfection as any movie will ever get. This is my view 14 years later after a better second look.
The plot, while simplistic in nature, is on point; the star-studded cast put up brilliant performances, and nothing — whether a dialogue or action scene — is wasted.