A Glimpse into the Darkest Depths of Matt Damon’s Filmography
By Matthew Creith | Published
There have been numerous movies in the modern era that have greatly influenced pop culture. However, only a select few have truly stood the test of time. These films have left an indelible mark on cinematic history, whether through awe-inspiring performances, intricate plotlines, or captivating circumstances. And when the conversation turns to Boston and crime, there is one standout movie that reigns supreme: “The Departed.” Starring Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Wahlberg, this epic thriller, masterfully directed by Martin Scorsese, has recently arrived on Netflix and is definitely worth revisiting.
Debuting in 2006, “The Departed” quickly earned its place as a modern classic, largely due to the impressive reputation of director Martin Scorsese and the stellar ensemble cast. Set against the backdrop of the Irish mob and the seedy underbelly of Boston, the film weaves together the storylines of the Massachusetts State Police and the mobsters they battle. Jack Nicholson plays Frank Costello, the menacing mob boss who decides to plant Matt Damon’s character, Colin Sullivan, as a mole within the police department. Meanwhile, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Billy Costigan, assumes the role of an undercover state trooper, infiltrating Costello’s crew. As Sullivan ascends the ranks of the police force, his path inevitably crosses with Costigan’s, setting the stage for an intense battle of wits and identities.
At a pivotal point in the film, both sides become aware of the situation, and each character races to uncover the other’s true identity before meeting a fatal fate. This climactic sequence spawned one of the film’s most iconic lines, famously spoken in a distinct Boston accent: “Are you a cop??” The profound impact of this scene and its humorous predecessors helped secure an Academy Award nomination for Mark Wahlberg, who delivered a standout performance as well.
It would be an understatement to describe “The Departed” as a violent film. Its unflinching portrayal of the Irish mob in South Boston leaves no room for romanticizing crime. In the final moments of the movie, the audience witnesses the rapid demise of no less than five characters, including several main protagonists. The shocking revelations in these concluding scenes sparked intense discussions among viewers, with Looper providing a detailed analysis to shed light on the complex dynamics between Matt Damon’s character and Mark Wahlberg’s. It is worth noting that this film also marked one of the last performances of Jack Nicholson’s illustrious career before his retirement, adding yet another layer of significance to its already stellar cast.
While “The Departed” predominantly features male roles, Vera Farmiga’s portrayal of Dr. Madolyn Madden, a love interest for both Damon and DiCaprio’s characters, stands out as a key supporting role. Farmiga’s compelling performance propelled her career forward, leading to numerous notable roles in the years that followed. Inspired by the real-life crimes of Whitey Bulger, a crime boss turned FBI informant, and partially based on the Hong Kong film “Internal Affairs,” “The Departed” captivated audiences with its gritty storytelling and superbly crafted characters.
The film was a resounding success at the box office, grossing over $291 million and becoming one of Martin Scorsese’s most acclaimed works to date. Prior to the film’s release, Scorsese had never won the coveted Academy Award for Best Director. However, he emerged as the favorite that year, finally capturing the Oscar and jokingly asking, “Could you double check the envelope?” It was a monumental achievement for a director who had faced multiple disappointments in the past. Scorsese graciously acknowledged his cast, including Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio, both of whom he has continued to collaborate with on subsequent projects, with their latest collaboration being the highly anticipated “Killers of the Flower Moon.”
“The Departed” not only propelled the careers of Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Wahlberg but also garnered critical acclaim and captivated audiences. Its dark and violent nature made it one of the most noteworthy films to have ever won the prestigious Best Picture award at the Academy Awards. Sixteen years later, the film continues to garner praise with a remarkable 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer and an impressive 94% Audience Score. Fans of “The Departed” will surely be thrilled to find it available again on Netflix, starting June 1st.
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