From the very first shot of the film, you will be hooked and drawn into this precarious world of aggression and uncertainty, as both Scorsese and the characters take you on a ride of crime. Structurally, the film is Scorsese's best since Goodfellas, as once more he shows his affinity for innovating conventional genres and creating something quite new and breathtaking in the world of cinema. His ability to use editing, cinematography and various other modes of cinematic technique to consolidate the thematic intentions of the film is nothing short of genius, and in itself enough to garner Marty a best Director Oscar at this year's Golden Globes.
Performance-wise, Scorsese demonstrates his profound ability to truly expose character's frailties, doing so suggestively and eliciting brilliant performances from all cast members involved -- whilst many are quick to recognise DiCaprio for his brilliant performance as the pressured cop-fake-criminal, Matt Damon presents a more subtle and suggestive character of complexity; a task more difficult than given credit for. Nicholson is darkly humorous in his flawless portrayal of Irish Mob Boss Frank Costello, offering a character of unlimited vitality and violent charm (if such exists). Mark Wahlberg makes his best performance yet as the cocky Detective Dignam, oozing cinematic charisma as he takes charge in each scene and grips the audience. Even the smaller performances of Alec Baldwin and Martin Sheen are extremely competent, and establish a degree of credibility virtually unprecedented within modern cinema. Vera Farmiga is a little inconsistent with her Boston accent, but is subtle as her character brings out the softer and harder sides of her two main counterparts. She does her job well, and does not (contrary to conventional opinion) bring the film down.
Ultimately, this film just needs to be watched; in every facet, the film is brilliant. Scorsese's direction is clear throughout, as he pulls all the strings and jerks the audience this way and that in this crime thriller of lies and deception. The cast is brilliant, all tapping into their characters and doing as much to bring the audience into this cat and mouse game of cops and robbers. Most importantly, as is usual with Scorsese's best and most challenging films, we are thrust into a world devoid of conventional morality. What is good? What is bad? In this world of 'The Departed', perhaps those distinctions aren't that clear. Sit back, and enjoy being entertained and challenged at the same time.
Marty, it's Oscar TIME!