Director Martin Scorsese returns to his trademark style with the violent, bruised, and bloody feature THE DEPARTED. Scorsese filched the basic storyline from Wai Keung Lau and Siu Fai Mak's masterful 2002 Hong Kong action film, INFERNAL AFFAIRS, which saw a policeman going undercover as a mob member and a mob member infiltrating the police force. Scorsese transfers the action to Boston, positioning Leonardo Di Caprio as undercover cop William Costigan and Matt Damon as undercover mobster Colin Sullivan. While Costigan and Sullivan get into plenty of nail-biting situations that almost reveal their true identities, Scorsese gradually unravels his strong supporting cast, including Jack Nicholson as Sullivan's mob boss, Frank Costello; Ray Winstone as Costello's meat-headed muscle; Mark Wahlberg as a hot-headed police sergeant; and Vera Farmiga as a love interest for both Damon and DiCaprio's characters.
THE DEPARTED finds Scorsese generously dipping his toes back into waters that will be warmly familiar to his biggest fans. Rolling Stones songs pepper the soundtrack, recalling the remarkable "Jumpin' Jack Flash" sequence in MEAN STREETS; bullets and blood punctuate every key scene, bringing TAXI DRIVER's explosive finale to mind; and the mobster-themed storyline is a thrilling return to GOODFELLAS territory. Nicholson and Winstone provide acting master-classes every time they appear, neatly complementing the blossoming talents of DiCaprio, Damon, and Wahlberg, while further veteran support comes in small roles for Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin. Scorsese is often criticized for affording precious little screen time to female characters, and THE DEPARTED won't quell those dissenting voices, although Farmiga's character proves to be more than a match for DiCaprio and Damon's posturings. But Scorsese followers who balked at his diversions into documentary filmmaking (NO DIRECTION HOME) and period epics (THE AVIATOR) will be delighted to find raw male machismo puncturing the screen once again in this frenetic entry into his celebrated oeuvre.