Movies & TV / Columns

From Under A Rock: The Departed

February 6, 2016 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
From Under A Rock: The Departed  


Today’s pick is one that always stuck with me (Aaron) from the first time I watched it, and I’ve recently given some thought as to why. This movie came out in 2006, so I was around sixteen-seventeen when I got to watch it. Before that point I didn’t get much of a chance to watch movies that were this violent or filled with as many swear words. Certainly not to such a degree that I would remember them. But along with The Boondock Saints, this served as my intro into crime thrillers, a genre that has since become one of my favorites. I love revisiting movies that had an impact on my movie tastes.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show, determined at the discretion of Michael Ornelas and Aaron Hubbard in alternation.

Last week Michael grabbed Aaron’s booties because it’s col– umm…that could have probably been phrased better. What we’re trying to say is we watched Groundhog Day. This week Aaron takes Michael out from under the proverbial rock by going undercover and emerging with Martin Scorsese’s The Departed.

The Departed
Released: October 6th, 2006
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: William Monahan
Leonardo DiCaprio as William “Billy” Costigan, Jr.
Matt Damon as Staff Sgt. Colin Sullivan
Jack Nicholson as Francis “Frank” Costello
Mark Wahlberg as Staff Sgt. Sean Dignam
Martin Sheen as Capt. Oliver Charles Queenan

Aaron Hubbard: Well, it’s been about half a decade since I watched this Scorsese classic (Best Picture of 2006, according to the Oscars), so I was curious to see how this held up on what I think is my third or fourth viewing. Apart from making me a fan of crime thrillers in general, this film cemented my appreciation for Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor I utterly hated for most of my childhood for movies like Titanic and The Man in the Iron Mask. Not to mention Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon. And fortunately, this largely held up for me.

Michael Ornelas: I liked it about as much as I expected to, which is quite a bit. Later this year, I’ll be journeying through all of Scorsese’s movies as I’m going to be watching the filmography of a different director each quarter and I have him for April-June. I’ve seen a handful of his movies (Taxi Driver and Goodfellas being the most notable of those I have seen), but he deserves a deeper look by me, and if The Departed is any indicator, I’m going to enjoy it, but I’m also going to feel like my morality has been shot in the face by the end of it.

I Want My Environment To Be A Product Of Me
Aaron: The opening line of this film may be my favorite opening line in any movie, although that may just be because it’s fresh in my mind. Jack Nicholson is one of the greatest actors of all time to be sure, but this is one of his standout roles for me. He’s only part of a great ensemble cast though; DiCaprio and Damon excel in the lead roles, and Martin Sheen, Vera Farmiga, and Ray Winstone all shine in their roles as well. But Mark Wahlberg all but steals the show though, making a lasting impression. While The Departed is a film that has a fantastic plot, I think the cast helps elevate it into one of Scorsese’s all-time best movies.

Michael: The cast was immediately dynamic and interesting. The parallels between Damon and DiCaprio in the early-going of the film where they were essentially doing the same things for the opposite reasons were handled really well. I also felt Martin Sheen added more to this movie than I expected, given how small his role was relative to the other characters. His death really affected me in a way that my mouth was agape while watching, and I couldn’t believe he was given such an unceremonious send-off. When you can kill off a bit player and still get a visceral reaction from me, you’ve made a compelling film.

Aaron: Almost everybody dies in this movie, but most of it I don’t think came across as gratuitous. I think what always gets me is how sudden Billy Costigan’s death is. That guy worked so hard and suffered a lot and finally made it out alive, only to realize that there’s a loose end. Then he just dies, wham out of nowhere. Even with the actual ceremony for his death, it still feels unceremonious and always strikes me as one of the most shocking death scenes I’ve seen.

On a Collision Course
Michael: This movie was all about setting up for a final showdown between two characters, and once we realized that, it was fantastic. I personally felt that the set-up took a bit longer than I’d have liked, but the twists and turns at the end almost cancelled that gripe out. The factors that were brought into play to add to the conflict before we knew what the conflict was going to be only strengthened the film (namely that Costigan was seeing Sullivan’s significant other, as played by Vera Farmiga, in a patient/doctor sense before that turned into an affair). Seeing both sides of the same coin was really interesting as well (a mole at the police department vs. a mole in the organized crime family), as most movies of the genre focus on only one of those roles. It would be easy to muddle up this plot, but once it going rolling, I found it pretty easy to follow.

Aaron: The two moles define this movie for me; most of Scorsese’s movies have impressive acting, memorable dialogue and shocking violence. And The Departed has that in spades, to be sure. But the plot is brilliantly executed and always what I remember most about this film. I love that Colin Sullivan (Damon) has such an easy life and he gets to enjoy it, while Leo’s Billy Costigan seems on the verge of cracking the entire movie. Costigan is vulnerable and empathetic and I was rooting for him to succeed, and while Sullivan is charming and funny, I was cheering for him to go down. I loved seeing them butt heads with their authority figures too, both the ones they really worked for and the ones they were pretending to work for.

Michael: Both storylines were meticulous in their execution and while the screenwriter William Monhan deserves a lot of credit for that, Scorsese was the one tasked with visually representing those ideas and putting the pieces together, and I feel this story was right up his alley. This movie had more showdowns to look forward to as well. We expected Nicholson and DiCaprio to collide but instead it was Matt Damon in Leo’s place, which I think made for an interesting, cool scene in its own right. And then just as we forgot about Wahlberg’s inevitable showdown with Damon, it crept into the back of our mind as a bullet crept into the back of Damon’s. Brutal, but poetic justice was served.

Making Something In Your Own Image
Aaron: One interesting thing about The Departed is that it’s a remake of the Hong Kong film Internal Affairs, which uses the same basic plot. While I haven’t seen that movie, I’ve never thought less of The Departed for being a remake of another film. It’s an example of doing that sort of thing right by making the best movie it can possibly be, changing the settings to fit something new and give it a unique identity, and making a good story accessible to a wider audience.

Michael: Remake culture doesn’t bug me as much as it does others, especially when it comes to adapting foreign films. It’s just a fact that many Americans don’t have interest in seeing a movie in a different language or with subtitles. So when a wonderful story from overseas is ripe for a repackaging and wide release in Hollywood, I support it because honestly, that’s most likely where I’m going to see it as well. I watched foreign movies from time to time, but I’d be lying if I said I’m as able to be immersed in them. As long as it’s not a shot-for-shot remake and the director has a vision for how they want their version to stand out, I think remakes are awesome.

Aaron: I have almost nothing but praise for this movie; besides all of the talent involved and the strength of the main story, there are so many little scenes that stand out to me that I enjoy. However, while I was entertained for most of it, I did think it was a little bit longer than it needed to be. But I enjoyed just as much this time as I did the last time, and I don’t think it’s going to be another five years before I pop this in to revisit it.


Michael: What viewing this film has done for me most is excited me about my upcoming journey of watching all of Scorsese’s movies chronologically. It was such a treat to see how this story was presented, and the story alone was enough to make it great. Many other components come together to make this worthy of its Best Picture distinction, and while I thought the expositional phases of the movie dragged a bit, I still find this to be an excellent piece of cinematic achievement.


Aaron: I think this may still be Mark Wahlberg’s best performance ten years later.

Michael: I don’t think so just because you haven’t seen Boogie Nights yet. And I think the music video for “Good Vibrations” tops this as well.

Aaron: I’m just glad you didn’t say The Happening or Transformers: Age of Extinction. Guy does not know how to pick ’em.

What is Mark Wahlberg’s best performance? Settle it for us!

Next week:

Michael: Omg omg omg omg omg omg FINALLY!! Aaron’s been watching this for the better part of two years now, and when we started the column, I asked him to aim to finish this series around the time the second season of Better Call Saul was set to premiere. Well he did, and next week we get to review what I consider to be the greatest TV series of all-time!


Aaron: While I’m certainly not the television addict that you are, watching Breaking Bad has been one of the greatest thrill rides I can recall. The series has made me laugh, cry, gasp in horror, and has the unique distinction of making me actually root for characters out loud. I don’t know of many other things in media that create that gut reaction for me anymore.

Michael: All that, and you still have six episodes to tackle before next week. Ozymandias is a television masterpiece, and the finale isn’t far behind.

What do you consider to be the best TV series ever?

E-mail us at [email protected]
Follow us! @FUARockPodcast
Like us on Facebook!
And follow Michael on Twitter! @TouchButtPro

Check out our past reviews!
Mission: Impossible, They Live, Marvel’s Daredevil, The Silence of the Lambs, 12 Angry Men, The Usual Suspects, The Boondock Saints, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Iron Giant, Fargo, American Psycho, 28 Days Later, Frankenstein, Crank, The Godfather: Part II, American Beauty, Rocky, Alien, Spaceballs, Star Wars: Clone Wars, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Reservoir Dogs, Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon, Double Indemnity, Groundhog Day, The Departed

The water crisis in Flint, Michigan has become national news, and while many are donating, the citizens still need all of the clean water they can get. The United Way of Genesee County has set up a fund dedicated to supplying the people of Flint with bottled water, filters and emergency support systems. If you want to lend a helping hand to this city, you can make a difference by donating to this fund.

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
The film that finally got Martin Scorsese his long overdue Oscar for Best Director certainly isn't his best or even in his top three, but still stands as an impressive accomplishment in one of the greatest careers any director has had. With a complexly interesting plot, a terrific script, and an extremely talented ensemble cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon, it stands tall as one of the best crime dramas of the century so far.