Though Martin Scorsese’s filmography is filled with many diverse movies, the legendary filmmaker is likely best known for his gangster movies. While Goodfellas and Casino earned him plenty of praise, The Departed was the movie that finally earned Scorsese his Oscar.

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The film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a mole inside the mob and Matt Damon as a mole inside the police force each trying to uncover the other before their own cover is blown. Along with the all-star cast and Scorsese’s expert direction, the movie is wonderfully written with some incredible dialogue that makes it a thoroughly enjoyable crime film.

Updated on December 8th, 2021 by Colin McCormick: In the 15 years since The Departed won Best Picture at the Oscars, Scorsese has made a number of acclaimed movies, from Silence to The Wolf of Wall Street to The Irishman. However, The Departed remains one of his most rewatchable movies, largely thanks to the endlessly quotable dialogue. From the funny one-liners to the tough-guy expressions, there are so many quotes from this movie that remain so much fun to revisit.

This line is spoken to young Colin Sullivan near the beginning of the movie by Frank Costello. It is an example of Costello grooming the young boy and setting him on the path to becoming his inside man within the police department.

However, the line is also a perfect comment on how Colin and Billy mirror each other in the movie. Each of them plays both sides of the cop and criminal worlds. In the end, both men face a loaded gun so which of them made the right choice?

At the beginning of the movie, Billy Costigan has hopes of being a normal cop, but his superior officer, Queenan, sees there is something else to this young man. He questions whether Billy really wants to be a cop or just pretend to be a cop.

In Queenan’s eyes, Billy is a very intelligent young man who has more potential than what he is setting himself up for. He feels Billy is lying to himself about what he can do which sets him on the mission to infiltrate Costello’s crew.

One of the many memorable characters in the movie is Costello’s right-hand man, Mr. French. He is a typical tough and no-nonsense gangster which Billy finds out when French stops him from beating up a fellow gangster in a bar.

French explains to the fiery young man who he’s the one who says who can and cannot be hit. His hilarious explanation of the “rules” of the criminal world is a lot of fun, especially as, after he sets Billy straight, French proceeds to beat up the man himself.

Jack Nicholson’s performance as Frank Costello is appropriately unsettling. But while he has flashes of anger and violent outbursts, Costello can be scariest when he has a calm and collected approach to murder.

After Queenan is shockingly murdered by Costello’s men, Colin confronts him about how reckless it was. Costello doesn’t seem bothered at all by it as he simply takes a “me or him” view of the entire thing which cements how dangerous this man is.

Despite the violence throughout the movie, The Departed also has some big laughs. The funniest character is the blunt and constantly annoyed Sergeant Dignam, played by Mark Wahlberg. Dignam is the perfect epitome of the “bad cop” routine as he has a sassy comeback to anyone he interacts with.

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Despite the fact that he doesn’t seem to like Billy very much, he does all he can to keep his undercover identity a secret. When one of his colleagues asks if there is currently someone inside Costello’s organization, Dignam responds in a hilarious cryptic, and hostile way.

Along with all the violence and intrigue of the story, the movie takes the time to show a more grounded look at organized crime. Frank Costello might live like a king as the mob boss, but his underlings seem like regular blue-collar guys who just follow his lead.

In one small scene, two of his men are standing outside discussing how to spot a cop and theorize that anyone who doesn’t pay attention to them is actually a cop. When a good-looking woman walks past and ignores them, they decide she’s definitely undercover.

Matt Damon gives a great performance as Colin Sullivan. Though he is good at his job and is an expert liar, it’s clear that living this life of deceit is beginning to tear Colin apart.

As it becomes obvious that the police have a spy in Costello’s organization, the mob boss grows impatient with Colin’s investigation. Colin tries to ensure Costello that he has it under control but he is now lying to both sides and putting on a false face just to save his own skin.

As terrifying as Costello can be, Nicholson also brings his devilish charm to the role which is thoroughly entertaining. It also makes for some great lines that are filled with dark humor.

In one scene, Costello stops and greets an associate at his bar and asks how his sick mother is doing. The man sadly responds that she’s “on her way out.” With a smile, Costello remarks, “We all are. Act accordingly.” This lack of concern about death seems to be his entire approach to life.

Though Costello has managed to rise up and become the most powerful gangster in Boston, the movie makes it clear that he’s starting to lose touch with reality and is becoming more and more unhinged.

Near the beginning of the movie, we see Costello executing two people on the beach. After shooting a female victim, he remarks to French that she fell funny, and then laughs. French simply looks at Costello and suggests that he might need some professional help.

Wahlberg’s scene-stealing performance as Dignam might have sent him on his path of later comedy roles like Ted and The Other Guys. Quite surprisingly, Wahlberg has some of the funniest lines in the movie, especially when he is degrading Billy.

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During Billy’s interview with Dignam and Queenan, Dignam takes any opportunity to berate and insult Billy. After Billy quotes Nathaniel Hawthorne, Dignam shows how impressed he is by making a fart noise and asking for some Shakespeare next.

The Departed marked the third collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio while continuing DiCaprio’s transition into more adult roles. He plays Billy with simmering intensity, a man surrounded by violence, who is terrified he will be found out and killed at any moment.

When meeting with Dignam and Queenan after being undercover for over a year, his anxiety is taking over and he begins to fall apart. He feels alone and abandoned like he is being offered up as a sacrifice to these violent criminals.

It is clear that Dignam has no regard for the chain of authority or for showing respect to those who might be in higher positions of power than he is. He is willing to call out anyone he doesn’t like — which is most people.

When his department is liaising with the FBI on their case against Costello, Dignam shows that he has even less respect for the feds than he does for anyone else. He is not only willing to give them no information but he is happy to do so in an insulting manner.

Following the death of Costello, the true identities of the moles come to light which leads to a face-off between Billy and Colin. Though he has no one to back him up, Billy confronts Colin and arrests him.

Colin goes through a range of emotions throughout this confrontation. He tries to bribe Billy, then threatens him, then tries to convince him that he’s wrong about everything. While all of his smooth-talking has saved him before, he finally realizes it’s not going to this time and begs for Billy to kill him. Billy calmly responds, “I am killing you.”

From the opening moments of the Scorsese film, Nicholson’s Frank Costello is made out to be a compelling and intimidating character. Through narration, Costello introduces himself with this brilliant and ice-cold line that perfectly tells us who this man is.

He is a criminal who is in it more for power and fear than for money. He is not interested in operating in the safest and smartest way, but rather he expects the world to operate around him and his desires. It is the kind of line that immediately sends a chill up the spine.

Wahlberg’s Dignam is such an entertaining character, there could be an entire movie just featuring him insulting various people. He is so merciless in his takedowns the audience almost wants to cheer whenever he starts screaming at somebody.

In one particular scene, the police force has set up surveillance to catch Costello in his latest illegal dealings. However, the surveillance is poorly set up, leading Dignam to insult the tech people. When one of them questions who he is, he yells “I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.”

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Author: Colin McCormick