Mr. Bill George Presents

Revisiting ‘The Departed’

In Film on May 5, 2009 at 5:06 PM

With a few exceptions, I usually keep the time between film viewings at a year minimum. That way it maintains some level of freshness. For this first ‘revisiting’ post I watched The Departed for the first time in full since I saw it in theaters in 2006.

It won the Oscar that year for Best Picture as well as Best Editing and Best Director. While the Picture category was admittedly weak that year, the editing and directing ones were not. The sweep was credited to the fact that, while The Departed was a solid movie, it was done by a man long overdue for some gold: Martin Scorsese.

Sentimentality for Marty aside: this movie deserved none of its accolades and was generally overrated. (And yes, I was regrettably part of that hype machine.)

Right off the bat, the first 20 minutes is a nightmare. We jump forward and back through time, music is added haphazardly, and I dare you to try to count the number of shot inconsistencies. We go from a shot behind Nicholson with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, to a head-on medium shot- cigarette: gone. Leo is leaning forward in his chair during a close up, cut wide, he’s laying back. It’s incredibly aggravating. Then, right when you think the story is off and running, the title card is slapped onto the screen twenty minutes too late. The whole thing can only be described as jarring.

After that, the movie actually begins to flow better. The trade off being, instead of being distracted by the editing, now your distracted by everyone’s atrocious attempts at Boston accents. First of all, not everyone who works in Boston is from Boston. Secondly, not everyone from Boston has such thick accents. And Matt Damon… really? You are from Boston. Therefore, however you naturally speak is a Boston accent. Why force it?

Don’t get me wrong, the story is riveting and the script is superb. My gripes here are with execution only. And the parts that are done right are really, really great. (i.e. Damon calling Leo on Queenan’s phone. The surprising finale. Etc.) And the performances (accents notwithstanding) are solid. Leo carries the whole damn thing and both Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg shine in their bit parts.

But the cutting (or lack thereof given its unnecessary 151 minute runtime), the music cues, Damon’s love interest; they all bring down what could have been an instant classic. Instead, it remains “that Boston cop movie” that everyone loves to remember fondly and talk glowingly about, but won’t stop while flipping past it on TNT.

WORTH REVISITING?: Not as good as remembered, but not a waste of time either. Just plain ‘meh.’


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