I have loved the original (Infernal Affairs) from the first time it enthralled and enticed me into its engrossing story, and I have watched it so many times without ever losing a moments interest. When I found out it would be remade, I was annoyed at Hollywood for meddling with masterpieces, but then I heard it would be Marty at the helm. His films have always impressed me and he deserves an Oscar for his efforts, yet his recent offerings have left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. Take Gangs of New York, it was entertaining, it had all the right elements to make it a great film, but after watching it, I felt a bit robbed. Undoubtedably, the best thing was Daniel Day Lewis’ ‘Butcher’ character, along with the fight scenes and the setting, yet none of it really ever gelled together to make that masterpiece Scorsese always craves.
This brings me onto ‘The Departed’. I went in thinking, this should be OK, Scorsese has taken an amazing concept and is trying to make it his own with a stellar cast that with such material, really shouldn’t go wrong. I was right to an extent, but I was left with a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Having read in reviews that Jack Nicholson stole the show, to be honest, he didn’t really do much for me in the film, just his usual on screen persona (feisty, scary, loud). He fits the bill though, he took up the screen and he owned the scenes he was in. However, if you look at the original and compare it to Sam, you’ll notice that Sam seemed more menacing, because you really didn’t know what he was going to do or say next.
Martin Sheens ‘Quinan’ was probably one of the weakest characters, his role in comparison to the original does not give a real mentor bonding with Billy Costigan (Leo Di Caprio) and defeats the idea of the closeness of the two main good characters. His sidekick however, Mark Wahlbergs ‘Dignam’, I think was the best thing in the movie. It allowed for a bit of banter and sparked off a few laughs in the cinema. He was more developed in this version, however he got in the way of Quinan making any impact on the story.
The two leads were well cast, Leonardo Di Caprio does well with his role and looks frail but tough, and caught in the middle of things. Matt Damon had probably less to do, in acting terms, however he manages well with what he had. Having said this, neither of them match up to Tony Leung or Andy Lau, from the original.
The one thing I did like about The Departed was the new idea that they both fall for the same woman. It added a bit more to the back story and suspense, towards the end.
Overall, I gave this a 7, because it is a movie in its own right and being that, it is a pretty good offering by Scorsese. The problem is, for me, the original is far better. The whole concept, suspense and acting from Infernal Affairs is so much more believable and flowing. I think one important point to note is the environment, the Hong Kong police force and triads are much better suited for this plot, as well as the language. Scorsese did well with transferring the idea over to the S. Boston Irish ‘mafia’, but he failed in trying to translate a lot of the dialogue over from Cantonese (eg. the wrong way of writing the word ‘bodyguard’ on the envelope, changes to the misspelling of the word ‘citizen’).
To conclude, if I was to take into account the original, I would have given this a 3.5/10, which may seem harsh, but I believe its nowhere near as good. If you haven’t seen Infernal Affairs and were intending on seeing The Departed, I would advise you to see the latter first, so you will know what I mean about feeling unsatisfied. I think the rating of 8.7 (at the time of writing) for The Departed does not do the original justice. I leave it for you to decide.