starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg
screenplay by William Monahan
directed by Martin Scorsese
by Walter Chaw Martin Scorsese's The Departed is his funniest--and most nihilistic--film since After Hours, which remains for me the most enjoyable of his pictures, not the least for its travelogue of the Wasteland, complete with a gallery of freaks and grotesque statuary. It's a bleak, Kirkegaardian thing more oppressive as fraught cityscape than Travis Bickle's New York, seeing as how there's no filter of the unreasonable to buffer against the assertion that scum does, indeed, need to be washed off those mean streets. That city finds a doppelgänger in the blasted, depressed Boston of The Departed, whose set-pieces unfurl inside dives, abandoned warehouses, and condemned buildings, and in which we find the only relationship worth saving is between a brilliantly profane Massachusetts State Trooper Sergeant, Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), and his captain in the Special Investigations Unit, Queenan (Martin Sheen). The brutality with which that relationship is preserved, in fact, ultimately delineates this as a rare comedy (in the traditional sense) among Scorsese's long legacy of American tragedies, albeit one that's laced with poison and the unmistakable taint of a post-millennial/post-apocalyptic stench.