Rat King

Jack Nicholson is a masterful sociopath on-screen. Mob boss, racist, killer, and endlessly on edge, Nicholson’s portrayal as Costello is sublime. He’s The Departed’s villain, at least until he’s not.

The Departed does this well, bouncing between the criminal underworld and the police station, with little moral separation between them. It’s a hyper-critical Scorsese film, disgusted by the lack of control in policing and the cocaine-led orgies that high crime affords Costello. The Departed takes an honest approach too, giving the dialog a heavy tinge of hate, spite, and embedded racism from the cops themselves.

The Departed is internationally relevant with few changes aside from location

“Patriot act, I love it,” spouts an absolutely giddy Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) as civil rights are eroded if not outright destroyed in a post-9/11 society. And to think Baldwin plays one of the good ones. While an endlessly gripping thriller with rats and insiders tracking one another unknowingly, The Departed is also sensational in expressing silent shock at modern policing, but also depicting how this can go so wrong, beginning with neighborhood youth falling under mob influence; the script isn’t blaming police for corruption so much as how easily it’s exploited by those inside.

This is, of course, a remake, taken from Hong Kong’s Internal Affairs. Scorsese takes that story and brings an immediate western sensibility to the project. The Boston accents, the Boston setting, the Boston landmarks – no trace of the foreign origins exist. Turns out, The Departed is internationally relevant with few changes aside from location.

Mark Wahlberg earned a Best Actor nomination but lost, although nearly anyone in The Departed’s main cast was a worthy choice. Nicholson’s madness is an easy pick, while Leonardo DiCaprio’s ceaseless panic attack becomes wholly convincing as his undercover status teeters on being exposed. Matt Damon excels too, balancing a cautious relationship and lies. Also, Vera Farmiga, with an understated empathy that’s ranks as the most honest character in the movie – at least until she falters too.

Scorsese aims for hyper-violence, yet plausibility. An early sequence explaining what bullets do to the human body becomes raw exposition for the litany of gun deaths to come, the blood, brains, and tissues splattering onto people and walls. It’s better this way, for the cruelty and brutality to be seen or known rather than hidden from sight. If not done for shock value, than honesty in how unnerving these lifestyles are. No wonder there’s a therapist at the center of it all.


A fresh master enhances The Departed visually, even when working with a softer source. Detail doesn’t pounce so much as squeezes out, mostly in close. The grain structure runs thick, but resolves well. It’s just not that impressive as source material, at least in terms of raw fidelity.

The best boost on 4K over the Blu-ray comes from the HDR, both in color density and depth. Flesh tones heat up, slightly bronzed, but not unnatural. Primaries glow, heavily saturated. The vividness looks spectacular.

Incredible black levels match the brilliant overall contrast. It’s intense, blinding at its hottest with little to no clipping. Same with the shadows, pure black, but without crushing. The resulting dimension is stellar.


Changing from PCM on the Blu-ray to DTS-HD (both 5.1), any differences are basically imperceptible. It’s a fine track, mostly filled with ambient sound of Boston. Lively city exteriors fill with vehicles and interiors at the station or bars spread wide.

The few action scenes utilize natural sound effects mixing, with little to no bass accentuating gunshots. Subwoofers remain silent for much of the runtime.


Martin Scorsese is involved in a new feature that runs 15-minutes as he discusses the influences and style. Other bonuses port from the Blu-ray, including a 21-minute featurette called Stranger Than Fiction, another on criminal culture, and then nine deleted scenes round things out.

The Departed
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


A tense, twisty mob/cop drama, The Departed explores morals and law with a critical eye towards both.

User Review
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 43 full resolution, uncompressed 4K screen shots ripped directly from the UHD:

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