The Departed (Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray)

An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.

April 19, 2024 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

When viewing a recent cop thriller on cable recently, one line stuck out right at the very beginning. That line read, “Are you an officer or are you a policeman?” and with Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, that very question is one that plagues two cops right out of the police academy (Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio) in an effort to catch reputed organized crime head Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) who manages in past efforts of capture to stay many steps ahead of his pursuers.

At the very beginning, it seems that Colin Sullivan (Damon) has managed to keep his brains up and practically has his future handed to him at an early age from Costello (Nicholson) and as he gets older with his sterling reputation he manages to get everything he wants aware that many don’t know the connection between him and Costello. Meanwhile, a rough on the edges rookie named Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) is brought in by two fellow detectives (Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen) to go in and infiltrate Costello from the inside being that Billy has a checkered past of his own that’s enough to cover up the fact that he is a cop.

With it’s twisted directions, unpredictability, and a subject matter that in another film can turn to cliches early, The Departed has an impossible task ahead of them updating a foreign film to native waters, but where many have failed in the past, this one in the present manages to not only hold it’s own but exceed expectations gladly thanks its efforts all around with a film that begins and ends with groceries.

Leonardo DiCaprio gives his best performance with Scorsese as Costigan, a rookie cop who has to keep his cover well hidden and goes through extreme measures ,with the inclusion of pills in order to relieve the strain the undercover toll on him, to get the job done. Costigan has his best kind of disguise with his head down and he’s not afraid to go to the danger zone especially when it comes to being associated with an appointed shrink (Vera Farmiga) who happens to have her own link to both men outside of Costello.

Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson provide solid support as Sullivan and Costello, who provide a slight father and son mode from point one with Costello staying in the shadows and staying hidden in the very beginning behind a shade or sunglasses and provides, coming into the light, that there is no difference whether you’re a cop or a criminal when it comes down to looking down at a gun. Sullivan is the handsome man who keeps everything on the straight and narrow and sees slowly but surely that throughout the film, he may not want everything he wishes for. The rest of the cast does solid work including nominated Mark Wahlberg, playing a cop who with Costigan aggressively, as game show host Allen Ludden best put it on bonus rounds of Password, puts his head in the right direction.

Everything comes together and the adrenaline rush is there thanks to the healthy direction of Scorsese who covers the subject matter very well along with everything in between the action and reaction of these two cops who go close to the edge before realizing their role in all of this. The action sequences are uniquely put together with flashes that give a tip of the hat to Weegee, the crime photographer in the early days as one particular action sequence in the film best demonstrates.

Through it all, Scorsese has dealt with updates (Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence) and a sequel twenty five years after its original (The Color of Money) at least once for the last three decades and The Departed continues to show that impossible tasks can be accomplished very well in Marty’s hands.

Video: How does it look?

The main draw is the new 4K transfer. This is a Best Picture winner by one of the most acclaimed directors in film – let’s hope they got it right. And they did. Similar to Warner’s efforts on The Fugitive, we find The Departed looking the best it ever has. The blue skies of Boston have never had such pop, the detail is off the charts and with new deeper colors, there were some scenes where my jaw simply dropped. Scorsese doesn’t often shoot in scope, but it works here. From extreme close-ups to the sprawling views of the city – simply put, this is beatiful.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio mix is a blasting track especially when it comes to the mix of background music and score but one thing that the film is constant with is not mixing too much loud score with dialogue. All sound effects and dialogue come out crystal clear through all channels with certain scenes that take away the sound that works to the films advantage when all starts to get crazy. Let’s hope you like the Rolling Stones, that’s all I’ll say. Through it all, it manages a healthy balance and makes for a great track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Guilt and Betrayal: Looking Into The Departed – This new feature essentially profiles director Martin Scorsese as he delves into the roots of the story, his influences (James Cagney films from the 30’s) as well as his other projects. At 15 minutes it’s more than just fluff and certainly nice to have a new feature to this Academy Award-winning film.
  • Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed – This goes into the true story of the related link to Jack Nicholson’s character and the effect it had on the Boston area and it benefits well mixing in film and real life accounts in its short 21 minute running time. It’s also interesting to note that one of the interviewees has the same exact speed and vocal patterns as Alec Baldwin’s character in the film.
  • Crossing Criminal CulturesThis gives us Scorsese’s upbringing with The Departed and other Scorsese notables and how they relate to the other classic gangster movies of the era of the 1930s with many of them starring Jimmy Cagney and keeping up with similar matters and touches throughout the pictures which mix together well and make for a very good featurette.
  • Deleted Scenes – We have additional scenes that are compiled together without being given the option to view them individually. Scorsese does an intro on each sene and goes to why the scene didn’t end up in the movie. Some are longer versions of scenes already in the film and some are smaller contributions. Although it would’ve been nice to see one or two of them in the final cut, they are all good but understandable as to why they were taken out.

The Bottom Line

Many feel, including myself, that The Departed won the Best Picture Oscar that should have gone to GoodFellas (or Raging Bull). That’s not to downplay this film. It’s got a top notch cast and the 150 minutes simply fly by. Warner’s new disc adds a new feature and gives us the best-looking picture the movie has ever seen. This is an essential part of every movie-lover’s collection.

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