The Departed was directed by Martin Scorsese, written by William Monahan and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, and Mark Wahlberg. The film won four Academy Awards at the 79th Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was the first Best Director win for Scorsese.
This film takes place in Boston, Massachusetts, where notorious Irish Mob boss Francis "Frank" Costello plants Colin Sullivan as an informant within the Massachusetts State Police. Simultaneously, the police assign undercover cop Billy Costigan, Jr. to infiltrate Costello's crew. When both sides of the law realize the situation, each man attempts to discover the others' true identity before being found out.
- Age Cut: Colin Sullivan.
- Alliterative Name: Madolyn Madden.
- All Psychology Is Freudian
- Animal Motifs: The last shot features a rat scurrying across a balcony with the state house in the background.
- Anti-Hero: Costigan is a Type III. He participates in some pretty bad shit and is certainly a real Badass.
- Asshole Victim: The police's view on Miles Kennefik, killed by Costello. 'We're not here to solve the case of the missing scumbag.
- Frank Costello himself gets killed by Colin Sullivan. Before that, Delahunt before he can reveal Billy as a rat. And Fitzy and the rest of Costello's men.
- And at the end, Barrigan and finally, Sullivan.
- Ax Crazy: Frank Costello embodies this trope.
- Big "Shut Up!": Costigan to Sullivan, punctuating each syllable with a punch to the face.
- Bilingual Bonus: Anyone who can understand Cantonese will get what the Chinese were ranting about, though their accents are off.
Chinese Mob Boss: What is wrong with you?! I've been waiting and waiting. This guy's from the government, man! If he gets caught he'll have to kill himself.
Costello's Translator: The boss doesn't think it's wise to bring automatic weapons. Are you crazy? Put your weapons away! Quick! Come on!
Chinese Mob Boss: Put the guns down.... I'm ordering you, check the goods.
- Black and Gray Morality
- Blast Out: At one point a squad of cops follow Costello's men, with Sullivan ordering them to stay back and watch. Eventually they get fed up with this, ignore Sullivan's orders and charge in with guns blazing. The result is multiple casualties on both sides.
- California Doubling: New York stands in for Boston in some scenes.
- Chekhov's Gun: The envelope.
- Chekhov's Gunman:
- Barrigan, literally.
- Dignam arguably, who walks out of the film 40 minutes before the end seemingly for good, letting Costigan and Sullivan face off uninterrupted, before coming back in at the very end to wrap up the plot.
- Chewing the Scenery: "I smell a rat." Nicholson almost literally chews the scenery when doing his bizarre imitation of a "gnawing, cheese-eating fucking rat".
- Cluster F-Bomb: 237 times total throughout the film.
- Country Matters: This gem:
Oliver Queenan: Do you know what we do here? My section?
Billy Costigan: Sir, yes, sir. I have an idea...
Dignam: [interrupting] Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's say you have no idea and leave it at that, okay? No idea. Zip. None. If you had an idea of what we do, we would not be good at what we do, now would we? We would be cunts. Are you calling us cunts?
Oliver Queenan: Staff Sergeant Dignam has a style of his own. I'm afraid we all have to get used to it.
- Cruel Mercy: Once he sees the jig is up, Sullivan begs Costigan to kill him. Response: "I am killing you."
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "I'm gonna tear your fucking arm off and shove it up your fucking ass!!" (and this is a cop talking).
- Deadpan Snarker: Sergeant Dignam in spades.
- Death Is Dramatic: Averted. One of the three leading actors is killed instantly with no warning whatsoever.
- Detective Mole: Sullivan.
- Deus Ex Machina: Marky Mark kills Matt Damon.
- Dirty Cop: Sullivan. Ironically, he's not very well liked within the department because everyone thinks that he's using his squeaky clean record (and a whole lot of asskissing) to get ahead.
- Disappeared Dad: One of the major themes of the film.
- The Dragon: Mr. French for Costello.
- Dragon Their Feet: Reversed and played straight at two different points.
- Enhance Button: Subverted. Zooming all the way in on the security camera footage does not enable Sullivan to discern any more details about his pursuer.
- Everything's Louder with Bagpipes
- Evil-Detecting Dog: A dog shies away from Sullivan.
- Face Death with Dignity: Sullivan (Damon): "Okay..."
- Five-Bad Band:
- Foreign Remake: Of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs.
- For the Evulz
Billy: You're seventy fucking years old. One of these guys is going to pop you. As for running drugs, what the fuck. You don't need the pain in the ass, and they're going to catch you. And you don't need the money.
Costello: I haven't "needed the money" since I took Archie's milk money in the third grade. Tell you the truth, I don't need pussy any more either... but I like it.
- Good People Have Good Sex: Costigan is a love machine. Sullivan, meanwhile, seems to have issues with erectile dysfunction. Guess which one is the hero. Averted by Costello, however, who has an active sex life (even at his old age) despite being a far from exemplary individual.
- Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Invoked when Costigan goes to prison to build up a reputation as a crook to be able to infiltrate The Irish Mob.
- Hahvahd Yahd in My Cah
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Billy, Costello and Dignam.
- Hired to Hunt Yourself: Sullivan.
- Hollywood Silencer: In the final scene.
- Hope Spot
- Hypocrite: Frank told Collin as a kid not to let anyone tell him what to do. Frank's an FBI rat.
- If You're So Evil Eat This Kitten
- I'll Kill You!
- The Infiltration: Played straight and inverted.
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. At one point, Costigan injures his hand punching out a goon and has to have it put in a cast.
- The Irish Mob: Costello (partially based on real-life Irish mobster Whitey Bulger) heads it.
- Jerkass: All the gangster characters, especially Sullivan, Costello and Mr. French, who fits the cake more so than everyone else.
- And to a lesser extent, the cop characters as well, Billy, Dignam and Ellerby. They ain't no better than the gangsters either.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Staff Sgt. Sean Dignam.
- Karma Houdini: Subverted. At the end, it looks like Sullivan is going to get away scot-free. Then Dignam shoots him.
- Kill'Em All: With extreme prejudice.
- Kudzu Plot: They stretch this out into a two-and-a-half hour movie. Hell, the title card only comes in after 20 minutes!
- Large Ham: Jack Nicholson.
- MacGuffin: Lampshaded.
- Mexican Standoff
- "Mister Sandman" Sequence
- The Mole: In both directions, even.
- Number Two: Dignam for Queenan.
- Obstructive Vigilantism: Dignam keeps mum about what he knows, and in the end, he just shoots Sullivan.
- Oddly Small Organization: The Boston mob is composed by five members, twenty to forty percent of whom are undercover cops.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping:
- Martin Sheen, God bless him, and the therapist.
- Leonardo DiCaprio is explained within the story that he faked his accent based on the social situation.
- On a point of interest, Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon don't have this problem, because they're actually from the Boston area. Wahlberg specifically is even from a working class background who had a few run-ins with the cops as a teenager... making this Truth in Television.
- Opening Monologue: Costello gives one.
- Overt Rendezvous: Whenever Queenan and Dignam need to chat with Costigan, they meet him in some park/riverbank area. This worries Costigan, because if anyone sees him with them, he's pretty much dead.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: In this case, a Justified Trope.
- Politically-Incorrect Villain: Costello mentions a distaste for "niggers" in his opening monologue. While it is shown to have historical significance this racism fails to show up in any significant way within the plot - it is only used to establish, mere seconds into the movie, that this guy is not a good man.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Averted as most people in this movie die from getting shot in the head, and it's never pretty. It's also defied in the opening montage at the academy, as the instructor details for his cadets the effects that their hollow point ammunition would have on a human skull.
- Prolonged Prologue: The credits don't appear until nearly 20 minutes after the start of the movie, by which time you've already seen a flashback scene, a Training Montage, and the first plot twist.
- Properly Paranoid: Costello and Queenan are both correct in their assumptions that there's a mole in their respective teams. More than one, in both cases.
- Reality Ensues: At the end, it looks like Sullivan is going to get away scot-free. Then Dignam unceremoniously shoots him dead.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Queenan (who also has some overlap with Team Dad).
- Redemption Quest: Early in the film, Queenan and Dignam press Costigan on why he's trying to be a police officer and go over the numerous members of his family who were criminals. Costigan suggests that he is trying to improve the family name/history.
- Revised Ending
- Sanity Slippage: Costello becomes more unhinged as the story progresses. Which is disturbing to see, since he's not terribly sane to start with.
- Sexual Karma: Sullivan's erectile dysfunction.
- Shout-Out: The scene in the graveyard has significant visual parallels with a scene in The Third Man.
- Shout-Out/To Shakespeare: "Readiness is all." Lampshaded by Dignam.
- Sir Swearsalot: Staff Sergeant Dignam.
- Smug Snake: Sullivan grows increasingly more loathsome throughout the film, climaxing in his confrontation with Costigan on the roof and subsequent elevator ride. Weeping, he begs a clearly disgusted Costigan to shoot him to give him an easy way out. Costigan refuses.
- Strange Minds Think Alike:
- Cranberry juice.
- The echo of "What's the difference?" This is what Costello says in his opening monologue, then Billy to him in a bar later on.
- "School's Out."
- Surprisingly-Sudden Death: Billy Costigan gets killed instantly with no warning.
- Television Geography: Boston's Government Center is portrayed as the Massachusetts State Police headquarters. In actuality, the MSP general headquarters is in Framingham.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted Trope: Costigan must see a therapist as part of his "parole" and to maintain his cover.
- Title Drop: Thrice in English, once in Cantonese.
- Torture Always Works: In this case, it would be ultimately less painful to maintain the lie.
- Troubled but Cute: Costigan, to Madolyn.
- The Un-Reveal: What Costello got Sullivan after he graduated from the Police Academy. The screenplay actually goes out of its way to say we'll never know what it is.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment
- Ungrateful Bastard: So how does Sullivan thank the guy who saved him from his captor? By shooting his rescuer in the face, of course.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While the film is a remake of Infernal Affairs, Costello was also partially based on real life Irish Mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger who was also working for (and protected by) the FBI. He eventually became one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted and was finally arrested in June 2011. Strangely enough, Bulger was rumored to have seen the movie when it came out, and apparently liked it.
- Vigilante Execution: Sorta. Sullivan manages to kill the only people who've discovered that he's Costello's mole and appears set to get away with it without even being charged with a crime, much less convicted, but Sgt. Dignam has other ideas.
- Villainous Breakdown: Frank Costello, and later on, Colin Sullivan.
- Villain Protagonist: Both Costello and Sullivan are main characters.
- Wicked Cultured: Costello is a fan of opera.
- Your Mom:
Ellerby: Go fuck yourself.
Dignam: I'm tired from fucking your wife.
Ellerby: How is your mother?
Dignam: Good, she's tired from fucking my father.