Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Departed (a guest review by Number Three)

Note to Matt Damon: Don’t play a bad guy. The other time you tried it was in the awful The Talented Mr. Ripley. I tend to admire you as an actor until you involve yourself in trashy roles like this one.

The Departed was essentially well crafted ho-hum with too much ick thrown in for bad measure. I suppose this should have been expected given the director. At the start we wonder if we’re in for some epoch, mind-altering vision of the streets; a little Dangerous Minds meets West Side Story. But in the end we can only conclude that in Scorsese’s world, hope does not appear and justice does not prevail, a fact that Scorsese seems to delight in for some unimaginable reason.

The basic story is as follows. An Irish mobster (Jack Nicholson) rules the streets of Boston. A home-grown mobster crony (Matt Damon) who has an unexplainable affection for the boss infiltrates the police by going through the academy so he can more efficiently help Jack be a bad guy. Meanwhile, an honest policeman (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes undercover to infiltrate the Irish mobster’s lair so that the police can more efficiently pretend to care that they’ve lost control of public order. DiCaprio’s only contacts back at the office are the ever lame and ever forgettable Martin Sheen and Mark Whalberg. The office also includes such unwholesome lack of talent, the completely and utterly pointless Alec Baldwin. Finally, there’s the lady psychiatrist (Vera Farmiga) with a dual love interest that conveniently, but not unbelievably, moves the plot along.

On the one hand, there was some smart dialog from smart actors, the kind of smart that only William Monahan (the screenwriter) can develop. He’s the kind of writer that made the characters in Kingdom of Heaven so rich and impacting. I might have been tempted to give the Mouthspeak score a +10 or so. But then there’s that completely unnecessary barrage of rotgut that they had to throw in to make it accessible to Scorsese fans. You know what I’m talking about: the “f-this” and “f-that” and the dirty jokes and the mean-spirited invectives from one character to another. I had to knock at least 8 points from the Mouthspeak because of this nonsense.

Then we had on display the craft of movie making in fairly expert style. Scorsese always makes a few artistic choices that distract from the visuals, but overall, we are pulled into the world the director is building for us. This might have even earned a +3 or so rating for Watchfeel. Ahh, but there was one little problem: Scorsese sees the need to be disgusting and provocative and dirty just for the sake of it. There was enough to disturb my senses as I viewed the pic that I had no choice but to knock nearly 20 points from the Watchfeel.

So, in essence, my conscience twisted my arm into giving this movie a bad rating. I fear that too much Scorcese might mash my brain to mushy mush, and I can't help but score the de-hearted souls pretty low.

Number Three’s Score:
Mouthspeak (impact of dialog): +2
Watchfeel (impact of visuals): -14
Mouthfeel (overall watchability): -6

Number Three

3 comments:

Stormy Pinkness said...

I have a question for you number three. Why is this a trashy role for Matt Damon? Are movies only supposed to show the pleasant side of life, but not at all the seedty underbelly. Is it your critical opinion that it was trashy or was it your conscience?

J. P. Hession said...

I am quite comfortable when Jack Nicholson plays a bad guy because he is a disgusting, bad man in real life. His roles fit him.

But I get very distracted when Matt Damon plays a bad guy because it does not fit his persona.

Your Racist Friend said...

I don't get it.....what has Jack Nicholson done that is so terrible? I don't remember reading about him stabbing his wife, or stepping on any little baby kittens or anything.