The Departed

'I don't want to be a product of my environment - I want my environment to be a product of me' - Frank Costello.

This noble sentiment from the mouth of a gangster - reminiscent of Milton Friedman’s reproof of JFK’s famous speech - kicks off The Departed.

Acting in it are a ‘who’s who’ of junior and senior male American film stars, including Leonardio DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, Jack Nicholson, and Martin Sheen. Sure, the first two look a bit alike (yes, they do!), but once you’ve overcome that, it’s pretty easy to follow. And boy, are they all good.

It certainly isn’t as complex as the action/thriller/mystery trailer, and the first 20 minutes, would have you believe. In fact, it’s a pretty straightforward film, almost so much so that you begin to wonder about the Oscars it won. Not because they weren’t deserved - anything without Ben Stiller should surely be a candidate - but simply because it all seems a bit too easy. There’s plenty of violence, some good old-faishoned double-crossing, and a naïve psychiatrist who falls for her patients. There are some sly modern ‘liberal’ digs at the Patriot Act, but otherwise it’s by the numbers.

Nevertheless, The Departed is solid, and a robust chunk of acting and plot. Well worth an evening in.