I come to a rather interesting list in the Ten Bad Dates With De Niro book that has a couple of films that I haven’t previously covered for the blog. It’s a list of remakes that are arguably better than the original.
And the critical reception, not to mention that of the audience, would seem to support that claim for this film The Departed, which walked away with four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Editing.
The original film, Infernal Affairs sparked a trilogy of films, as the Hong Kong series swept the cinematic world by storm, which inspired Scorsese and screenwriter, William Monahan, to tackle a sprawling remake for the English speaking world.
And it is a damned fine film, and there are days I like it better than the original, and feel a little bad about it. Scorsese does some fantastic work with the material, and has an all star cast to bring it to life. Led by Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon the cast is rounded out with Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Anthony Anderson, and Ray Winstone.
All of these power hitters bring the story to life, as it is relocated from Hong Kong to Boston, and we are dropped in a hard-talking, racist, and homophobic reality of cops, and organised crime.
The cops are after Frank Costello (Nicholson). They’ve been after him for decades, and now they may actually be able to take him down. They have an undercover cop on the inside, one that comes from the right background, has done the time, and is focused on his task, Billy (DiCaprio).
And even though the job drives him to drugs and drink, he never loses focus on the task at hand.
Unfortunately, the other side can play the same game. They have a man on the inside as well, sending him through the police academy, and getting him assigned to undercover work. Costello’s man on the inside is Sullivan (Damon) and he will be as tempted by the life on the right side of the law, as Billy is pulled into the wrong.
There are contrasts in characters and explorations of morality, all set against a crime story that Scorsese does so well. I’m not usually a big crime family fan, I always think they should get their just desserts, but I was completely wrapped up in the epic two and half hour tale.
The film remains completely captivating, as actors at the top of their game bring a fantastic story to light.
Both the original and the remake are brilliant films, and I will leave you with this one request. Don’t make me choose.
Can’t wait to see what Ten Bad Dates With De Niro has in store for me next…