I watched The Departed on DVD for the first time last night, Martin Scorsese take on the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs. Both have their good points and bad points. On balance I’d say I prefer the plot of Infernal Affairs and Tony Leung Chiu Wai’s Chan Wing Yan (as Tony Leung) is more interesting than Leonardo DiCaprio’s William ‘Billy’ Costigan Junior. The cinematography of The Departed is a bit slicker than Infernal affairs and being in English it’s a film I can watch without having to be in the mood for reading sub titles. I also found the cast of lesser gangsters stronger in The Departed although this may be down to sub titling distracting from watching performances. The Departed recreated many of the iconic scenes from Infernal Affairs really well and where it went in its own direction it wasn’t detrimental.
One deviation from Infernal Affairs was the introduction of Mark Wahlberg’s SSgt. Sean Dignam. Now Wahlberg, like co-star Damon, is from Boston where the film is set so I wondered if it was a case of using actors from Boston to try and build the local feel. In the very last scene the reason for his inclusion becomes apparent. Western film makers still like to have the moral ending where no bad guy gets away unpunished.
Now Infernal Affairs has a prequel and a sequel. The prequel is actually my favourite of the three Infernal Affairs films because of the way it plays with the characters but I we’ll see a Hollywood version. Even though the sequel is the weakest of the three the ending of Infernal Affairs actually removes the opportunity for an interesting face off between Damon and Wahlberg. I’m shocked at even typing that but Wahlberg seemed to be a lot better actor in The Departed than any other film I’ve seen him in. Acting with Damon, DiCaprio and Sheen seemed to make him actually work at his part rather than cruise through the film.