The Departed UHD Review

4 Stars Another Scorsese classic comes to 4K
The Departed Screenshot Review

Martin Scorsese’s The Departed arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

The Departed (2006)
Released: 06 Oct 2006
Rated: R
Runtime: 151 min
Director: Martin Scorsese
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson
Writer(s): William Monahan, Alan Mak, Felix Chong
Plot: An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.
IMDB rating: 8.5
MetaScore: 85

Disc Information
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 2 Hr. 31 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Digital Copy
Case Type: UHD keepcase with slipcover or UHD Steelbook
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 04/23/2024
MSRP: $33.99 standard; $40.41 steelbook

The Production: 4/5

Martin Scorsese is best known for gangster films, but out of the 26 narrative films he has made, only six are classified in that genre. As the director explains in the sole new bonus feature on this disc, after completing The Aviator in 2004, Scorsese was developing a few passion projects that at the time were not panning out and came across William Monahan’s screenplay for The Departed, an American-zed reworking of the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, and the frame of mind he had towards the film was that it would be his final gangster picture (never say never, because he would make The Irishman 13 years later). The Departed would also be his second remake of a film, having made Cape Fear in 1991. Having enjoyed working with Leonardo DiCaprio on The Aviator, Scorsese cast him as police academy dropout Billy Costigan, Boston native Matt Damon as the young state police detective Colin Sullivan, and in a real casting coup, Jack Nicholson as mob boss Frank Costello (patterned after infamous mob informant to the FBI Whitey Bulger). Ken McAilnden’s review of the 2007 2-disc DVD release follows:

The Departed adapted from the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs by screenwriter William Monahan, is a messy, indulgent, violent, and profane tale of organized crime. Most of the preceding adjectives would be bad things if the film were directed by anybody other than Martin Scorsese.

The central plot of the film involves a complex two-way cat and mouse game between Billy Costigan (DiCaprio), an undercover cop who infiltrates the inner circle of prominent Boston gang lord Frank Costello (Nicholson), and Colin Sullivan (Damon), a fast-rising Massachusetts State Police officer who is a mole for Costello’s organization. Each gradually becomes aware of the existence of the other with tension steadily rising as they attempt to preserve their cover while identifying their opposite number in police and criminal organizations that are becoming increasingly paranoid due to the leaks they are creating.

The plot is a bit overstuffed with some threads that go nowhere, particularly in the film’s second half, which is much less tightly constructed than the opening scenes that introduce the characters and set up the conflict. Additionally, certain scenes seem to run on a bit too long. That being said, the overall effect is still a kinetic, fast-paced, and suspenseful film. The film walks a fine line in that the audience always knows things that the main characters do not, creating a sustained atmosphere of suspense that carries through the implausible and drawn-out sections of the film, and yet the audience does not know everything, creating an empathy with the undercover agents as they get in further and further over their heads and are forced to improvise.

The script is filled with amusing dialog, with each scene seemingly tweaked for maximum entertainment. Even the scenes which do not seem necessary are never dull. In that sense, it sometimes plays like a Howard Hawks film with mile a minute profanity. As was the case with many Scorsese films before it, the pervasive blunt language somehow works to ground a film that would otherwise play as broad opera. The characters are well drawn, creating an authentic-feeling Boston underworld environment.

Another virtue that helps carry the film through some of its rougher patches is its uniformly excellent ensemble cast. From top to bottom, the film is filled with great performances. While indulgence of actors, especially Nicholson who is in his full-on charismatic devil mode, undoubtedly led to some of the overlong scenes, they are all so compulsively watchable, that you can understand why it happened. DiCaprio conveys his character’s inner turmoil through subtle facial expressions and body language, but not in a way that would be noticeable to his criminal cohorts. Damon draws his character as charming enough that you could see how he would be a fast riser in the state police who somehow avoids scrutiny of things like his ritzy Beacon Hill apartment with a stereo system that would cost as much as all of the real estate in Rhode Island.

The skill of the performers also helps to smooth out some of the rougher plot edges. Vera Fermiga is so good as a psychologist who becomes romantically involved with both Costigan and Sullivan, and her chemistry with both Damon and DiCaprio is so solid, that you barely mind the wildly coincidental plot contrivance. Mark Wahlberg initially seems too young for the part he is playing, but he makes you forget that before his first scene is over. Ray Winstone and Alec Baldwin play a gangster and a cop who are high up in their respective organizations. They both manage to make you believe that they are competent while still not quite able to figure out what is going on with their underlings.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The Departed was photographed on 35mm film stock in the Super 35 process using Arricam ST, Arriflex 235, and Arriflex 435 cameras by Michael Ballhaus (Goodfellas, The Color of Money) and was completed as a 2K digital intermediate in the 2.398:1 aspect ratio. Warner’s Motion Picture Imaging (MPI) created the new 4K digital intermediate that was the basis of this release, which features a 2160p HEVC encode with HDR10 high dynamic range. This is a very film-like image, with noticeable but organic film grain that also provide a high level of detail such as facial features and fabric textures quite well. Colors appear natural with nice gradations, bold and vivid without ever appearing overly saturated. Contrast is excellent, allowing for deep blacks with strong shadow detail and bright highlights without appearing washed out.

Audio: 4.5/5

My gut tells me that this is essentially the same 5.1 mix that has appeared on all previous physical media releases of the title, but this time encoded as lossless DTS-HD MA (DVD was lossy DD 5.1, Blu-ray and HD-DVD were lossy DD 5.1 and uncompressed PCM 5.1). This is still a rather front-heavy mix utilizing a wide front soundstage with some occasional surround and LFE activity. Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 3.5/5

This is another single-disc UHD release (a BD100) from Warner, and thankfully includes most of the special features that appeared on the previous Blu-ray release, plus one new extra. Unfortunately, Warner has upscaled the older bonus materials from 480i to 1080p with the wrong frame rate (24 rather than the original 30), resulting in a dropped frame appearance and interlacing issues.

**NEW** Guilt and Betrayal: Looking into “The Departed” (1080p; 15:05): Scorsese reflects on the development and making of The Departed in this new featurette with an all-new interview with the director.

Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and “The Departed” (upscaled 1080p; 21:07): This 21 minute featurette focuses on some of the real South Boston gangsters who were used as inspiration for the “Frank Costello” character in the movie. It includes interviews with Scorsese, Monahan, and various authorities on contemporary Boston organized crime, including police officers, reporters, and former mobsters. In addition to providing details of the true story of mobsters James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen Flemmi, it includes discussion of how the filmmakers incorporated elements of their story and other specific Boston detail into the framework of the “Infernal Affairs” adaptation.

Crossing Criminal Cultures (upscaled 1080p; 24:04): Another featurette that focuses on the director. It covers how Scorsese’s childhood, his cinematic influences, and his personal preferences and beliefs have informed his crime films such as “Mean Streets”, “Goodfellas”, “Casino”, “Gangs of New York”. and “The Departed”. It overlaps with some of the discussion of these same topics from “Scorsese on Scorsese”, but expands on them greatly, with numerous clips from some of Scorsese’s favorite gangster films as well as his own. Talking head interviewees include Scorsese, DiCaprio, critic Kenneth Turan, forensic psychologist Dr. Louis Schlesinger, and many of the Boston criminal experts from the “Whitey Bulger” featurette.

Deleted Scenes with Introductions by Martin Scorsese (upscaled 1080p; 19:25): Each has an introduction by Scorsese explaining how it came to be trimmed from the picture as well as what he likes about it enough to include it as a deleted scene on the DVD (e.g. the look of Boston in the shot, a piece of dialog, a character beat, etc.). The Scorsese introductions are sometimes longer than the actual scenes, and are also framed at 2.39:1.

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code is included to redeem a 4K digital copy of the film.

Overall: 4/5

Fans of this film and the director will likely be happy with this release, at least with the upgraded picture and new bonus feature. I just wish Warner would stop upscaling their standard definition bonus materials at the wrong frame rate.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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