Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Boston Rats

The Departed
Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin
Released: October 6, 2006

Oscar nominations:

Best Picture (won)
Best Director - Martin Scorsese (won)
Best Supporting Actor - Mark Wahlberg (lost to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine)
Best Editing (won)
Best Adapted Screenplay - William Monahan (won)

If you've never seen it, I would highly suggest watching The Departed before reading this review. I will give warnings when I get to spoilers...I have slight spoilers and I have major spoilers. It probably won't be a big deal if you're spoiled slightly, but, trust me, you don't want to know the major spoilers if you haven't seen this movie yet! 

So this film is actually a remake of a 2002 Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs. I've never seen it, but from what I do know about it, it's an hour shorter than The Departed (which is two and a half hours long). The inspiration for that movie was a more realistic version of Face/Off and while I was watching this, I did kind of get that vibe (just not as absurd!)

Even though this is a remake of a foreign film, I did get a slight Goodfellas vibe from it. Even though I enjoy The Departed, I like Goodfellas better. Let's be honest: that's the movie Scorsese should have won for! I will say this is my favorite collaboration between Marty and Leo. Well, it's a toss up between this and The Wolf of Wall Street. I'm not too high on Gangs of New York or The Aviator or Shutter Island

Slight spoiler warning alert! I feel like this information is probably known to everyone because it starts pretty early in the movie, but you never can be too careful! 

The movie takes place in Boston where Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) has become a detective for the Massachusetts State Police. However, he is actually a mole to gather information who has been trained and groomed by Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), an Irish mob boss who has been like a father figure to Sullivan ever since he was a young boy. In fact, when I saw the young boy they cast as him, I knew instantly it was Matt Damon's character! They did a really job casting him. In fact, he even calls Costello "Dad" whenever he calls him on the phone right in front of the police captain, Queenan (Martin Sheen). "Hi, Dad, I can't make it to dinner, but my friends are still coming!" Seriously, how did they not figure out what that's code for when he was saying that right in front of them?

Meanwhile, while there's a rat in the police unit, Captain Queenan and Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg) have placed undercover cop William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) to infiltrate Costello's mob group. He has just graduated from the police academy and nobody knows who he is except for one person (and I'll get to that later). Their plan for Costigan is to have him get arrested for assault, spend some time in jail, then get in with Costello's group. That way at least it will look authentic he's a hood rat. Queenan and Dignam are the only two people who know that Costigan is working undercover.

After a major transaction of microprocessors (whatever the heck this is) goes wrong, Sullivan and Costigan are well aware there are rats on the other side and warn their respective leaders of them. While Sullivan is on police duty watching this transaction go down through surveillance with the other officers, he reaches into his coat pocket and we see him text a message to Costello, with one hand, mind you, and keeping his phone in his pocket, "No phones". Okay, this is 2006, so he's doing this with a flip phone and he's obviously memorized which buttons to push and how many times to push the up/down arrow to get to his contacts, then how many down to click on Costello's name and which buttons to push to write "No phones", but....if I did that, I would probably end up sending it to the wrong person....if I even got to contacts and the message would probably read "77 74843" or whatever numbers correlate with those letters! Obviously, he probably practiced doing that until he got it right, but I was pretty impressed he could do that. So he warns Costello to shut off the phones and everyone is like, "They turned their phones off!" However, there's one person who has kept his phone on and Costigan has texted Queenan a simple "$" to let him know the buyers are there. So that's how the two infiltrators are aware of each other. They just don't know who they are. 

For a movie without any adolescent girls or hardly any female characters for that matter, there's a lot of period talk. It's really gross. Well, it's really gross and skeevy in one scene, and in the other scene, it's still gross, but it's also funny. In the opening scene, when we're introduced to Costello and see him talking to a young Colin, he asks the girl who's working behind the counter, "Have you gotten your period yet?" First of all, ewwwwwww. Second of all, the girls is clearly at least sixteen. Of course she's gotten her period. Don't be an idiot, Frank. During this whole monologue we're getting from Costello, they keep him hidden in the shadows and I thought they were doing this because it takes place in the past and they didn't want us to see Nicholson's face cuz he needs to be young, but at the very end of his speech, we see him step out of the shadows and see his face.  In the other scene where periods come up, Costigan is at a bar where Costello's guys hang out and he orders a cranberry juice. One of the guys tells him that's what his girlfriend drinks when she's on her period and asks Costigan if he's on his period and in response gets a shot glass smashed on his head.

Speaking of women, police psychologist, Madalyn (Vera Farmiga) is the only one of note, and thank God, we don't have to hear about her menstruation cycle. She strikes up a relationship with Sullivan and they start dating. Their meet cute is super annoying. They're both on an elevator with several other people and Sullivan strikes up a conversation with her. When the elevator opens, it's her floor, and she gets off, but Sullivan, who tells her he's up one more floor, stays on the elevator, but keeps his body against the door to keep the elevator from closing and is still talking to her for several minutes, eventually getting her card. And there are other people still on the elevator waiting while these two are shamelessly flirting with each other! I'm surprised nobody got pissed at them! They're all just standing there, nonplussed. I would be so annoyed! It's like, why don't you get off the damn elevator and get her information and then just take the damn stairs up one flight when you're done! UGH! I did laugh when she gives him his card and he says, "I don't need it...I'm a detective, I'll find you" and she starts to take it back, but he snatches it and tells her, "I do need it." That was pretty cute. 

So they start dating, but guess who Madalyn has an affair with? Costigan, of all people! What a small world! Later in the movie, Sullivan will get a whiff of this information and Madalyn will tell Sullivan they're having a baby, but I have to wonder, as I did, if he suspects that it's not his as he has some, ahem, problems in the bedroom. 

When Queenan tells Sullivan to follow Costello because he believes that will lead them to the rat inside the police unit, a lightbulb goes off over Sullivan's head and he tells two officers to put a tail on Queenan, telling them he suspects Queenan might be the mole. It's actually a brilliant idea, it's just too bad the bad guys thought of it first! The two officers track Queenan to an abandoned warehouse where, indeed, Queenan is meeting with the infiltrator. Sullivan calls his guys and gives them the address and tells him they found the rat. When Queenan and Costigan found out they've been exposed, the former tells the latter to use the fire escape and that he'll be okay.


Well, Queenan wasn't exactly telling the truth when he tells Costigan that he'll "be okay" because when Costigan walks outside and around a corner, Queenan's body literally goes splat on the pavement in front of him from being thrown out the window. Oh my God! They killed President Bartlett! This is the first of many, many characters to become departed, hence the title. Costigan starts crying and freaking out and I'm thinking, Run, Leo, get the hell outta there! But when someone comes out of the building and asks him what took him long, I remembered that he was supposed to meet there in the first place. the next scene, the guy who texted Costigan tells him he gave him the wrong address and finds it curious that he showed up. Lucky for Costigan, this guy got into a shootout with the other policemen who followed Queenan and literally dies a few second later, so his secret is taken to the grave. I mean, how convenient is that?

There's a great scene where Sullivan dials the last number Queenan dialed on his phone and Costigan is smart enough not to say anything when he answers it. Both of them are just holding their phones to their ears, waiting to see if anyone will talk first, but no one does. When they hang up, Costigan starts packing, but then calls the number back and says, "You called this number on a dead man's phone. Who are you?" Sullivan tells him who he is and that he's taking over Queenan's division. Costigan wants to confer this piece of information with Dignam, but he took a leave of absence (or rather quit because he was furious that Sullivan got Queenan killed by putting a tail on him). I don't know why he just didn't call Dignam to ask him unless he didn't have his home phone number? :::shrug:::

In another turn of events, Sullivan finds out, from going through Queenan's notes, that Frank Costello is an FBI informant. What the huh? I wasn't exactly clear who all knew that information. Queenan for sure and probably Dignam. But did Costello know that Costigan was working for the FBI too? This whole reveal really confused me. Maybe I'm just stupid, who knows! Sullivan is worried that Costello is going to rat him out, so he kills him when the police bust him and his gang for some drug thing. Costello has one of those movie deaths where he's shot in the chest and spits up blood, but psych! He's not dead yet! It takes another shot to kill him and Sullivan is hailed as a hero, so I'm guessing nobody there knew about Frank's secret. 

There's a scene where Costigan gives Madalyn an envelope and instructs her to open it if something happens to him or he tells her to and that she's the only person he trusts. Remember this piece of information. Speaking of envelopes, there's another one that's an integral part of the story. When Costello finds out there's a rat among his crew, he makes everyone fill out a form with their name, address, social security number, etc. so he can check out everyone. All of these papers will be in an envelope with CITIZENS (actually it will be written twice because the first guy who wrote it spelled it wrong) scrawled across it. Everyone is supposed to stay in the bar where they're filling out until they've all been checked, but Costigan says he's not staying, so that's a huge sign that he's the rat! Though I don't blame him that he wants to leave...if he stays, he's dead.

So this envelope with "Citizens" will come up later when Costigan sees it sitting on Sullivan's desk when he goes to get his pay and that's when he knows that Sullivan is a mole within the Force. He also knows that Sullivan knows he was the rat within the mob. He leaves without telling Sullivan, but he doesn't tell Dignam, who is, remember, the only living person who knows the truth about him. Instead he gets Sullivan to meet him at the building where Queenan was killed, baiting him by saying Costello told him he has recorded all his conversations for insurance and if they are released, Sullivan will be revealed. Costigan also called Anthony Anderson, the one person who was also in the same academy as Costigan and knows who he is. Costigan thinks he can get him to trust him, but it doesn't quite work out that way. I still don't understand why he didn't call Dignam! 

Costigan takes the elevator down with his gun pointed at Sullivan's head, but when the door opens, we see someone shoot Costigan in the head, and then when Anthony Anderson comes down the other elevator and sees Costigan dead on the floor and two of his fellow officers, he doesn't quite know what's going on. The guys shoots him too. This is someone we've seen in the background, but not a major character. He tells Sullivan that he wasn't the only one working for Costello and they have to look out for each other. When Sullivan gets the chance, he kills him. 

Not long after, Sullivan will come home to his apartment to see Dignam there with a gun and he kills him. You may have never noticed this if you've only seen the movie once, or maybe you didn't even notice on a second time, but next time you watch this movie, be on the lookout for X's when a character dies or is about to die. When Sullivan is walking down the hall to his door, the carpet in the hallway has large X's (super tacky if you ask me), when Costigan and Sullivan are in the elevator, you see an X created with duct tape about Costigan's head, and when poor Queenan falls out of the building, he pasts several windows with tape making an X. 

Remember that envelope Costigan gave Madalyn to open if anything happened to him? We never see it again. The last we see of Madalyn is her at his funeral, crying. I guess they thought it was unnecessary since we already knew what would be in that envelope, but it just seemed weird to bring up if they're not going back to it.

The movie ends with a shot of a rat on the balcony railing which made me groan for two reasons. One, this is an extremely nice apartment complex in Boston and now there are rats balconies? No, I don't buy it. (And I literally wouldn't buy the apartment if it had rats!) Two, it was a little too on the nose.  

No comments:

Post a Comment