Welcome to the super-secret Boston Marathon blog! Over the course of the last 20 weeks everyone has prepared to run from Hopkinton to Boylston street. They’ve run intervals and done long runs and hopefully practiced for the downhills. But, I am going to be revealing my secret Boston specific training in time for you to copy me and maximize your shot at a PR. I have been watching Boston Movies and I’ve reviewed 4 of them for your reading pleasure. Yesterday I wrote about The Town, and today we have some blazing fire hot takes about The Departed. Enjoy and then watch The Departed to get ready for The Boston Marathon. Or just cuz it’s a pretty fun movie to watch.
Boston Movie- The Departed- 3.8/5 Dunkins
In terms of the actual plot, basically this is a cops and robbers movie, except instead of it centering around crimes that the criminals are pulling, the battle really centers around the fact that both sides have moles in the other side. Each side spends the whole movie trying to figure out who the mole in their operation is. Jack Nicholson is loosely based on the Boston mob boss, Whitey Bulger, and he employs Matt Damon who is a detective for the Massachusetts State Police as his mole. Meanwhile, Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg run the undercover operation at the Massachusetts State Police Department and place Leonardo DiCaprio undercover in Nicholson’s operation. Over the next 2 and a half hours there is a lot of misinformation and betrayal and pretty much everyone gets killed, except for Mark Wahlberg.
Stressed out Bostonians play phone tag with each other until they all die.
If we’re gonna talk about The Departed we have to get on the same page right off the bat. Here’s the thing about The Departed, it’s not a good movie in the sense of being a really high-quality piece of art. Is it an entertaining movie? Hell yeah it is! I love The Departed for a movie that I can just kinda sit back and enjoy myself for a few hours. But, it’s good in the same way a Dilbert Cartoon is good, not in the same way that The Sistine Chapter is good.
Some people think it’s a classic movie, like one that belongs on some sort of Mt. Rushmore, and it’s not. It just isn’t. The Departed gets worse the more closely that you watch it, which for sure disqualifies it from being “a classic.”
If we agree on my above assertion, then I think this will be a fun little post. If we don’t, then I think that you should hop down to the Least Favorite Parts section of this post and then I am 86.27% sure that you will come around to my side.
So, that begs the question, what makes The Departed a fun and entertaining movie? Well, it has an amazing cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, and Vera Farmiga (it also has Anthony Anderson, who I love so much, but he only has a small role ☹). Damon and Leo are both at the absolute peak of their acting powers, it has fun Boston accents, they say the F-word or some form of the F word 238 times, Jack Nicholson turns the psycho meter up to 12, and Mark Wahlberg is in like 4 scenes but absolutely brings the heat for every single second that he’s on screen.
Now, with all that being said, what stops it from being shot directly into the absolute upper tiers of all movies fover? Well, it kind of feels like the writers looked at the cast who signed on and were kinda like, “Holy shit, lets just get out these guys’ way.” And the result of this is a bunch of plot lines that go nowhere, and the entirety of the final 45 minutes making little to no sense.
Also, in this piece, I’m just gonna use the actors real names, when I talk about their characters because there’s a lot of them, they’re all famous, and all the character names sound really similar, so this way will be easier.
I think the obvious answer here is the scene where Jack Nicholson and his band of criminals is selling the fake microchip processors to the Chinese people. If you polled 1000 The Departed fans, this would be the leading answer, and it’s a fair answer. There’s a lot to love about this scene, Nicholson cranks the psycho shit up to 12, everyone is super on edge, Matt Damon throws on his best choir boy act even though he is simultaneously helping Nicholson et al., evade capture, Alec Baldwin is giddy and acts like maybe he did amphetamines right before this scene starts, and Wahlberg says one of the most fun and meanest things one human can say to another when he yells, “I’m the guy who does his job. You must be the othahh guy.” It’s a great scene and it for sure deserves an honorable mention.
One final honorable mention: More of an interesting wrinkle than an actual part of the movie, but here’s a question that I never caught until this rewatch; is Vera Farmiga actually pregnant with Leo’s baby? So, quick recap- Vera Farmiga is dating Matt Damon, and in one scene we find out that Matt Damon is having trouble standing at attention, if you will, in the bedroom. And then later, Vera Farmiga sleeps with Leo, and later ends up pregnant. Now, I am not saying that it’s for sure Leo’s baby, but I am saying that there is a greater than 0% chance of it being Leo’s baby.
But the scene that takes the cake for me, personally, is the one where Nicholson and his associate Mr. French, are kind of feeling out Leo in Nicholson’s apartment.
The scene starts with Nicholson, who is wearing a fun robe, informing Damon over the phone that he set up a guy for a murder. Then he comes in and starts eating what looks like sea food, and he and Leo chat for second until Jack reveals a severed hand, seemingly from nowhere. This obviously scares the shit out of Leo. Jack goes on talking about John Lennon and what Leo’s role in the crew is going to be while he calmly removes the wedding ring from the hands and continues to kind of just wave this bloody hand around. The scene cuts to Mark Wahlberg and Martin Sheen listening to the conversation, which indicates that Leo is wearing a wire, then back to Jack Nicholson and Leo. Leo is visibly uncomfortable, and Jack can tell. Jack calls to Mr. French and says, “Get rid of this, and send this to his wife.” He then hands the severed hand and the wedding ring separately to Mr. French who says, “I thought it was nice how you asked the guy which hand he jerked off with. I hope this (the ring) doesn’t shake her up.” Jack responds by saying, “As I remember, she aint that sentimental.” And with that, it’s clear that he has previously slept with this newly 1 handed man’s wife. The scene ends with Leo in the bathroom ripping off the wire and throwing it out the window. Quick final cut back to Wahlberg who says, “That was quick, think he’s dead already.”
That is my favorite scene. I like it because it makes it clear to Leo, and the audience, that this is so much more than he bargained for. Jack Nicholson is doing what Jack Nicholson does best, being a complete and utter weirdo, and Mark Wahlberg brings just so much callousness to the situation of Leo potentially not being alive anymore. It’s like every single actor and character is doing exactly what they’re made to do. And, it’s also one of the only scenes that is actually really funny. Most of the movie is super dark, and yet we get a tiny couple of minutes where we can just kind of stare at the screen and chuckle at Nicholson playing with a dismembered appendage and Mr. French mentioning masturbation. It’s not high brow comedy, but it’s pretty great.
Least Favorite Parts-
Let’s just all start by agreeing that everyone’s least favorite part is the homophobia, and causal C words, and the racist slurs that get thrown around mostly from Jack Nicholson’s character, but also from others. Are we all on board with that stuff being not the best things? Ok, cool.
Leo tails mob boss, Jack Nicholson to a porn theater where Nicholson hands off an envelope of information to Matt Damon, Nicholson’s mole in the police department. Leo can’t identify Damon but he’s told, via text, to follow the envelope. So when Damon tucks the envelope into his jacket and leaves the porn theater, Leo follows. He tails him into an alley and is about to make an arrest when he gets a phone call and the ringer goes off, alerting Damon that someone is following him. They both hide and Damon ends up stabbing an innocent Asian man who happens to come around the corner of a truck at the absolute wrong time.
Here’s why this scene upsets me, Leo is texting in the theater and his phone is on vibrate, which is exactly what would expect since he’s tailing someone. So, we’re supposed to believe that Leo leaves the theater to keep tailing Damon and at some point, switches his phone from vibrate to the loudest setting in the history of phones??
For the first 1:42, those are the only two things about the movie that I didn’t like. There’s some other stuff that isn’t 100% perfect, but for the most part everything tracks. But then Martin Sheen gets thrown off a building, and as his body splats on the ground, so does the integrity of the plot.
So, we’re gonna run through these chronologically:
The first thing that happens that doesn’t make sense happens right after Martin Sheen dies, when Wahlberg has a physical altercation with Matt Damon. At this point, Damon is tasked with finding the rat in the police department (himself) by the police, and finding the rat in Jack Nicholson’s crew (Leo) by Jack Nicholson. This fight prompts Alec Baldwin to suspend Wahlberg from the force. After Wahlberg leaves the conference room, Damon tells Baldwin that he needs the identity of the undercover officers currently being used by the Massachusetts Police Department, which seems like a pretty reasonable request coming from the man who is supposed to find the mole in Police Department. Alec Baldwin refuses to give it to him, meaning that neither of the only two people in the entire world who know the identities of the undercover officers of the Massachusetts Police Department are currently working for the Massachusetts Police Department. Martin Sheen is super dead and Wahlberg is suspended/resigns. Baldwin does say that he wants the tech department to get on it, but then later we learn that they can’t open any of the files either. So for a very long time nobody knows the identity of any of the undercover officers that Sheen and Wahlberg had employed, and this seems to be very acceptable to everyone. This seems like a pretty gaping hole of information for an agency who deals mainly with investigating things.
The next things that happen all happen one thing after another, and they all happen when Leo figures out that Damon is the rat and arranges a meeting with him on the same rooftop that Martin Sheen died on. And let’s pause right there for a second, so Leo has acquired all these tapes of Jack Nicholson and Damon talking on the phone, very incriminating stuff. Why does he even call Damon? All that Leo really wants at this point is his identity back. He kinda also wants to get paid for his work and he kinda wants to get justice for Sheen, but mostly he just wants his identity back. Yet he calls the one person in the entire movie who has no interest in giving him that? He also calls Anthony Anderson, who meets him on the roof, which is also a weird move because his plan is to arrest Damon, who is this high ranking and highly respected police officer. How could adding more cops to this situation be good for Leo? Why doesn’t he just go to almost any lawyer’s office? Why doesn’t he track down Mark Wahlberg? Why doesn’t he call Damon’s boss Alec Baldwin? Why doesn’t he do literally anything other than call a couple cops to a former crime scene with no back way out.
Ok, so, back to the scene. Leo takes Matt Damon down to the lobby via the elevator and when the doors open, he immediately gets shot in the head by this random detective that we’ve met like 3 times in the whole movie. This random guy unshackles Matt Damon and reveals that he is also a mole for Jack Nicholson and that they are the only two left (Damon killed Nicholson earlier) and need to stick together. So, let’s pause again, how does this guy know that Damon is a mole but Damon doesn’t know that this random dude is a mole? Damon outranks this other guy and has way more power in the police department. If that information is getting divulged to anyone, it seems like it should have gone to Damon first. And also, how does that guy even know to go there? Leo never called him. Maybe he’s Anthony Anderson’s partner, I guess, but there’s nothing to indicate that earlier in the movie, and if he is Anthony Anderson’s partner why is he just waiting in the lobby when Anderson was up on the roof with his gun drawn? We definitely never hear Anderson call for any back-up and this location seems very out of the way. There is zero percent chance he was just wandering by. So, that’s all very confusing.
Back to the scene again. The random detective then grabs Leo’s gun, and uses it to kill Anthony Anderson ( ☹ ) who took the other elevator down in order to follow Leo and Damon. Why? You might ask. Good question! There is no reason for him to do so! They have a pretty tidy shooting scene, with a seemingly very justifiable outcome because Leo, a suspected mobster, had Matt Damon at gun point. Then Damon takes Leo’s gun from the random detective guy, wipes off all of the prints and then kills the random detective with it. Then wipes it off again and places it back in Leo’s hand.
So, just to review, the series of events goes. 1) Leo gets shot by random guy’s gun 2) Anthony Anderson gets shot with Leo’s gun 3) Random guy gets shot with Leo’s gun 4) prints are wiped from Leo’s gun. And after all this, Matt Damon seemingly gets completely cleared of any wrong doing almost immediately, despite admitting to killing the random guy and throwing him under the bus as a rat for Nicholson. He also recommends Leo for the medal of merit. This story makes no sense and I really feel could be torn apart by a 17-year-old who played a lot of Clue, let alone by professional detectives. Like, here’s a question they could have asked Damon: “If you shot the random detective, why did the bullet match Leo’s gun?” Boom, can’t talk your way out of that one, Damon. Oh, you want another question that could have destroyed the story, “Uhhhh, Damon, why is the bullet in Anthony Anderson’s head (RIP Big Homie) a match with Leo’s gun if you are recommending Leo for the medal of merit. It really seems like he killed a cop here.”
Oh yeah, and one more thing, a couple scenes earlier Damon deletes Leo’s undercover police file (way too easily, by the way). So, A) again why is he recommending him for the medal of merit, for all anyone knows he’s a suspected mobster who just killed a cop. And B) a couple scene’s later we’re at Leo’s funeral and they have his police head shot there in front of the casket, even though at this point no one knows that he was actually ever a cop. He was plucked right out of the academy by Sheen and Wahlberg, then sent to prison by Sheen and Wahlberg to sell his undercover role, then his whole file got deleted, then he got killed.
One last thing that doesn’t make any sense. In the very last scene, Matt Damon comes home with some groceries and Mark Wahlberg is waiting in Damon’s house to murder him. He’s got the silencer on his gun, and he’s got those painters booties so that he doesn’t leave foot-prints, this shit is very pre-meditated. When Damon gets through the door, Wahlberg shoots him in the face. Here are my questions, why and how? We have no evidence to suggest that Wahlberg knows that Damon was the rat in the police department. Wahlberg hasn’t been on the force for 45 minutes at this point, and even the people in the police department don’t suspect that Damon was a mole. So, either he figured Damon out, how? Or he just decided to murder Damon for a completely different reason, why?
So, yeah, there’s a lot that doesn’t make sense in this movie.
Best Boston Accent-
Wahlberg and Damon go toe to toe in the movie with their Boston accents and it’s amazing. It’s like Bird, Magic or Foreman, Ali. They have a couple scenes together that should just be played over the speaker system on a loop at every Dunkin Donuts in New England. I have a feeling that Damon’s is more accurate. Like, if you found 1000 Bostonians and sampled their voices to establish what a Boston accent truly is, my guess is that Damon’s voice would slide so smoothly into that definition. It’s effortless for him and he’s got this ability to say normal/even nice things with the tiniest hint of being a big ass hole, which is fun to listen to and the main reason that I love Boston accents. That being said, I don’t really care about accuracy. I’m here for most fun accent, and in that contest, Wahlberg is the clear and decisive winner. His voice is so out there and so wild and so fun. Everything he said in The Departed was the sonic equivalent of taking The T to Fenway wearing a Tom Brady Jersey and a Red Sox hat with a large Bruins tattoo on your shoulder, eating 43 Dunkin Doughnuts, and then drinking 15 Sam Adams. In other words, his voice in this movie is Boston cinematic perfection.
Worst Boston Accent:
I mean, it’s Jack Nicholson, obviously. In half the scenes he doesn’t even try to have a Boston Accent and a noticeable number of times he says the same word two different ways in quick succession. Sometimes he loves saying his Rs and sometimes he drops them. It’s so bad, and that missed opportunity makes me sad.
Best Boston Accent Line:
Everything that Mark Wahlberg says
Every time someone says “sahhhgent”
The wold needs plenty of bahhhtendahhs- Alec Baldwin.
But the best Boston line goes to this little back and forth that Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin have. It goes:
Whalberg: My people are out there, their like fahkin Indians. Yah not gonna see em, and yah not gonna heah about them except through me or Captain Queenan. You will not evah know the identity of undercover people. Unfortunately, this shit hole has more fahkin leaks than the Iraqi Navy
Baldwin: Fahk yahhself
Wahlberg: I’m tired from fahkin yahh wife
Baldwin: How’s yah motha
Wahlberg: Good. She’s tired from fahkin my fatha
This little repartee makes me so happy for so many reasons but mostly I like how casually they tell each other to fuck themselves or fuck off. That is a truly Boston thing. I have never experienced any other place where “fuck you” is kind of a compliment.
How could the Boston Marathon be incorporated?
Ok, so if we are rewriting this movie with the sole goal of adding a scene, or changing a scene, to incorporate the Boston Marathon, I think we have to do something Leo and Damon are so close to figuring each other out, but the Marathon gets in the way.
So with that in mind, here’s what we’re doing: Leo is at a bar with Jack Nicholson and Mr. French. When they leave, Nicholson sees Damon across Cleveland Circle. Leo is the last one out of the bar and misses Damon’s face as he gets into one of those unmarked cop cars that are clearly cop cars. You know, the blacked-out Crown Victoria’s that have the lights attached to the side mirrors. Nicholson decides to do one of his psycho things where he throws caution to the wind and flaunts the fact that he feels untouchable. Nicholson approaches the car and says something like, “want to see a dick?” Damon turns, shocked by the statement and then wildly uncomfortable that Nicholson is approaching him so publicly. They talk for 3 minutes or so, Nicholson tells Damon to falsely arrest someone for a crime, and then walks back. Right as Nicholson is crossing Cleveland Circle back over to Leo and Frenchy, Damon’s face is going to be exposed. At that very moment, the lead woman comes flying down the road from B.C. with the whole entourage and it breaks Leo’s concentration, when he looks back for Damon’s car, it’s gone.
Come back tomorrow for the number 1 Boston movie of all time- Good Will Hunting