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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Jack is back! Bringing out the dead in The Departed

Lies. Betrayal. Sacrifice. How far will you take it?

Jack is back in full glory stealing the scenery left right and centre - even with the adept presence of Leonard diCaprio in the same room Jack Nicholson 's light is shining brightest.

Martin Scorsese's light touch is missing in this undercover police drama remake of Internal Affairs - two men undercover from the opposite sides of Boston - the Southie side and the North - have to discover each other's identity. Matt Damon as Colin Sullivan who grew up on the tough Southie side who falls under the sway of Costello, and Leo di Caprio as William Costigan Jr. who was born in the south but was raised in the North. Damon is in familiar territory with Boston but everyone in the Special Investigation Unit on this case from di Caprio to Mark Wahlberg [ the ultimate Southie ] as the foul-mouthed Dignam to Martin Sheen as Queenan are steeped in Boston. Alec Baldwin is the FBI liaison.

What we have in its stead is the ultimate Reservoir Dogs. Whereas John Ford could not stop making Westerns despite making the very best, Scorsese cannot stay away from the gangster genre.

The Departed has plenty of grit and moral verisimillitude and plenty of Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello - the top of the Irish mafia and the number one target of the undercover division of the "Staties" - the Massachusetts State Police.

Costello's role is unglamorous and full of Nicholson unpredictable mannerisms and everyone is all hurting for it - whoever is the centre of his attention has to be careful - whether it be the shopkeeper he is intimidating for protection money or those under his command. Losing friends or making colleagues disappear and how to deal with it is the least of it. The food chain starts at the top and he smells a rat. He suspects there is a police mole in his ranks and he has to ferret it out.

I don't need to remind you that if you don't find that cheese eating rat bastard in your department it won't be me who suffers for it.

The Departed is another of Scorsese's character studies into the human behaviour when tensions and conflicts pose sticky problems that seem insurmountable in the ultimate fight for survival.

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