The Departed Blu-ray: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

This film is the Best Picture of the year.
  • OVERALL
    4.5
    SUPERB
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
This film is the Best Picture of the year.
THE BAD
I wish I could access the interactive features easier.
THE FEATURE
The Departed brings us Martin Scorsese in the genre he is known for, leading high caliber actors to amazing performances and heightening every scene with either dialogue, editing, or action that enhances the story.

This film shows us the tales of Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and the man about whom their world's revolve Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). Costigan is made a plant in Costello's crew while Sullivan is Frank's agent in the Special Investigations Unit of the Police Force. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse with both Costigan and Sullivan trying to outwit one another, without ever really knowing who the other person is. Through them, we get to see the daily goings on in Costello's world, and we also see how the men in the black hats and the white hats can all be highly corrupted.

Utilizing the editing style that has put Scorsese on the map, The Departed is yet another fine installment in his gangster oeuvre. At times it is cagey, convoluted, scary, and everything else we love to have Martin Scorsese indulge in. This film is layered in music, film language, and the kind of violence that we usually don't see from movies today. It is as if Scorsese has come back and infused this movie with everything that he has learned since he started making films in the 1970s.

From not having title credits until about 20 minutes into the movie, to employing a Dropkick Murphys song as this film's theme, to filling up this movie with so much story and characters that we become as confused as they are, The Departed is the reason why movies are the special experiences that they are.
THE EXTRAS
The Story of the Boston Mob

I was excited to see this on here because I was hoping to find out more about James "Whitey" Bulger, the real life mob boss behind Jack Nicholson's Frank Costello character. Aside from getting a nice history lesson of how the Boston mob came into existence, I was happy to see that Nicholson wasn't merely being Nicholson in this movie. Apparently, this Bulger character was one bad dude and in certain scenes where I thought Nicholson may have hammed it up, he was actually drawing from a real life inspiration. I don't know whether I should be scared or impressed at the work he's done here.

Nine additional scenes with introductions by director Martin Scorsese

Crossing Criminal Cultures

Martin Scorsese may, at times, try and distance himself from mob culture and films with graphic subject matter, but this section gleefully indulges the connection between Scorsese and his former home of Little Italy. I have always admired this director because he turned away from becoming a priest, and instead endeavored in the less noble profession of being a film director. Here we get to see how this director's early influences have carried over all throughout his career. This is a very well put together piece as it looks at this filmmaker from many different angles, it examines his films, and it shows how even when he's not tackling violent subject matter head on, there is always a violent undertone to everything he does.
THE VIDEO
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 - Presented in 1080p resolution this film looks quite good on Blu-ray disc. What really impressed me was how sharp every single image appeared to be. It's as if Warner Bros. has gone though the print meticulously before and after they encoded it. The movie has been edited by Thelma Schoonmaker in a way that the story plays both linear and non-linear at the same time. This can sometimes get confusing but it really didn't, especially on this disc, because everything was so pristine. It would be very hard to imagine a movie looking any better on DVD than this one does here.
THE AUDIO
English PCM 5.1. English, Spanish and French Dolby 5.1. The sound on this release was as high end as it gets. I heard things on this viewing that I didn't hear when I saw this movie in the theater. Everything is mixed in such a way that it almost engulfs you in the film. I had to level things a bit when the disc first started playing, but I had none of the issues that I sometimes encountered on standard DVD. Namely, that the audio having to be constantly adjusted between the dialogue and the soundtrack.
THE PACKAGE
When is Blu-ray going to change up these cases? This is the one area where this next generation format (both next generation formats) are really lacking. This blue covers just don't look good. They don't seem to stack up well on a shelf and they simply make this whole release look rinky dink and it's not. The cover features shots of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Jack Nicholson. The back cover lists out what The Departed is about, it offers up a Special Features listing, a cast list and system specs.
THE FINAL WORD
Having seen this film in the theater and now on DVD, I was amazed at how little The Departed has lost in the translation. This movie is so good because it feels real. I never felt as if I was watching actors act. Sure, I think that Jack Nicholson sort of goes over the top here, but I think that Scorsese really knew how to utilize his energy. I also think that Scorsese seems just as at home with the working class in Boston, as he seemed many years prior with working class Italians in Mean Streets.

There is an interesting school of thought that Mean Streets was more real in terms of how it presented the mafia, and that later films like Casino and Goodfellas are sort of this director selling out. Giving that organization more glamour if you will. Well, I don't think we'll ever know what came first in regards to if the film's represent the gangsters, or the gangsters represent the films, but I think that to deny the artistic achievement of what this director has brought to this medium is to do the medium of film a disservice. At all times The Departed is working on us. Whether we are trying to follow the action, the characters, or the plot this movie doesn't let you off the hook until the final credits.

On DVD, this movie still has all the frightening reality that it had in the theater. The Departed is a true movie experience.

Do you like this review?

Comments