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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir Martin Scorsese|
scr William Monahan
with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson, Kristen Dalton, Kevin Corrigan, James Badge Dale
release UK/US 6.Oct.06
06/US Warner 2h31
Two tribes: DiCaprio and Sheen (above); Nicholson and Damon (below)
See: INFERNAL AFFAIRS (2002)
This lucid, visceral cop-mob thriller sticks close to the original story to remake the 2002 Hong Kong classic Infernal Affairs. It also plays to the considerable skills of Scorsese and his exceptional cast of actors.
Colin (Damon) grew up in South Boston, befriended at a young age by the local crime boss Frank (Nicholson), who encourages him to go to Police Academy and become a top detective, while still working for Frank. Meanwhile, Billy (DiCaprio) also became a cop, but Captain Queenan (Sheen) wants him to play to his working class roots, drop out of the force and infiltrate Frank's operation. Both sides know there's a mole in the ranks, and whoever's caught first is dead.
Monahan's script is a powerful examination of personal choices, about how morality can be moulded or warped over the years, and how the dearly departed influence our lives. The dialog cracks with humour and energy, giving the entire cast serious meat to chew on as they add weight and depth to their characters. Wahlberg and Baldwin have the most outrageously tasty dialog; Sheen and Nicholson have the juiciest characters; Damon and especially DiCaprio hold the film together with shades and subtlety that get way beneath our skin.
Everything about this film screams Boston, which gives the events a strong sense of time and place and also makes us sit up and take notice, simply because it's not yet another New York or Los Angeles cop movie. The city is another vital character here, and actually adds an emotional kick to the characters from the very beginning. It also provides a terrific setting for such a tricky and twisty storyline, which squeezes its characters in an increasingly tight vice grip as it progresses.
Scorsese captures all of this with cool efficiency, avoiding unnecessary flourishes and never remotely glamorising the disturbing and often shockingly sudden violence. He simply tells this complex, layered, resonant story in a coherent way that never lets up for a second. And this is one of his most assured, solid films; he never puts a foot wrong. Yes, it owes a heavy debt to the original version, but this is a masterpiece all its own.
Lok Chow, Hong Kong: "This movie is a masterpiece! Martin Scorsese's Best Film since Goodfellas! I wish Martin can win Oscar by this movie!" (6.Oct.06)
Michael Meyer, OC, CA: SPOILER ALERT! "They missed a golden opportunity to complete this film with a point and have a meaningful, substantive winning feeling in the end by adding only one line to the dialog. As she's walking by Colin (Damon) at the funeral he pleas to her, 'What about the baby?' She should have answered, 'It's not yours!' That would've cooked him good, given Billy (DiCaprio) his family heritage (which was such a central focus in beginning), and given the audience a feeling that there was a winner in all this madness. Instead, the movie wilted with no winners. Just one line! Come on, dub it in the DVD." (11.Oct.06)
Sara Waeckerle, email: "Excellent! Full of unexpected twists. A Scorsese masterpiece that's worth every moment of your time." (13.Apr.07)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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