Opinion

‘The Departed’ is Overrated. Here’s Why.

February 19, 2016
3 min read

The Departed is overrated and shouldn’t have won the Best Picture Oscar, and neither should have Martin Scorcese. In a perfect world, Scorcese should have received the statuette for far superior works such as “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull”. “The Departed” wasn’t the Best Picture of the year by a long shot. In my opinion, the best film of 2006 was “Children of Men”, which, rather unfortunately, wasn’t even nominated. Despite being Scorcese’s only Oscar win, “The Departed” is one of his weakest works. Sure, I liked it when I saw it, but I had expected a lot. Also, it doesn’t hold a candle to the original “Infernal Affairs”. Here are some of the reasons why the film just doesn’t work for me — not completely.

 

1. It’s overlong — and overindulgent.

Sergeant Dignam (MARK WAHLBERG) has a heated exchange with Colin Sullivan (MATT DAMON) over the identity of the mob infiltrator in Warner Bros. Pictures’ crime drama “The Departed.” PHOTOGRAPHS TO BE USED SOLELY FOR ADVERTISING, PROMOTION, PUBLICITY OR REVIEWS OF THIS SPECIFIC MOTION PICTURE AND TO REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE STUDIO. NOT FOR SALE OR REDISTRIBUTION.

The film could have used some editing. Scorcese’s indulgence is evident in numerous scenes which felt they could have been left on the cutting room floor. The overall message and the themes about identity and self-discovery could have been conveyed succinctly if the film was shorter.

 

2. Jack Nicholson hams his way through the film.

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Nicholson’s hammy, scenery chewing performance here is a prime example of how not to act. Jack Nicholson is one of the best actors to have graced the silver screen, and his forte is his dialogue delivery (see Chinatown). But here, he just comes across as simply loud mouthed with no real menace behind the word he utters. This ties into my first point as well — cut out some of Nicholson’s scenes and the movie would be better for it.

 

3. The message is obvious from the start.

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Thematically, the film doesn’t quite land a punch. While the original “Infernal Affairs” starts with the same themes, it ends on something else entirely, leaving us hollow inside, left to ponder. “The Departed” fails to achieve the same nuance, primarily because of its garbled storytelling. At the end, there is no emotional payoff, and while Leonardo Dicaprio tries his best to make us care for his character, it isn’t the same. Jaques Audiard’s “A Prophet” is a much, much better film which tackles similar themes effortlessly despite its length.

‘The Departed’ is not a bad film; it’s just overrated. Despite the aforementioned flaws, it’s still an engaging drama. Dicaprio and Damon are good as always. Mark Wahlberg’s bad-mouthed Sgt. Dignam is one of the best things about the movie and if I were to give it a re-watch, I’d do it just for him.

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