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The Departed

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Martin Scorsese's career-changing turn to the overblown epic, a turn marked by Casino, would seem to be a course difficult to reverse. Kundun ... Gangs of New York ... The Aviator.... And now even a trashy light diversion, adapted from an average-length Hong Kong action film, will get dragged out to two and a half hours -- this despite the delivery of dialogue at the machine-gun tempo of a hopped-up auctioneer (or of Scorsese's own casual conversation), and despite, too, the mere semblance of speed imparted by the free-associative cutting and the incongruous rockabilly beat of the background music, whenever the filmmaker isn't trotting out his collection of rock-and-roll oldies. The convoluted plot verges on farce: an upwardly mobile underworld spy in the Massachusetts State Police (Matt Damon, raising his eyebrows in an ostentatious show of innocence) and a downwardly mobile police spy inside the mob (Leonardo DiCaprio, giving himself away with his meat-cleaver worry line) both become involved, first as clients and then as suitors, with a Harper's Bazaar idea of a psychotherapist (Vera Farmiga, she of the prow-like cheekbones, life-raft lips, blue-lagoon eyes). Not even the take-no-prisoners crescendo of gore toward the end, jolting though some of it is, can pull the movie back from the farcical brink. And Jack Nicholson, as showy an actor as Scorsese is a director (when he's only in it for the money, anyway), plays the mob boss at a pitch barely below his Batman Joker. With Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Ray Winstone. (2006) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated R

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