Bored of Damon / Nicholson / Di Caprio...One of the DEPARTURES of the film THE DEPARTED from its source material – Hong Kong thriller INFERNAL AFFAIRS – is a DEPARTURE from the TIMELINE* of the original. Not only does the undercover cop character changes his whole identity in INFERNAL AFFAIRS
but the film takes place seven years later, plenty of time for said Undercover Cop to infiltrate the gang. (It also gives plenty of time to slot in the midquel** INFERNAL AFFAIRS 2). In THE DEPARTED Leonardo Di Caprio’s character is kicked out of the police, does two months in jail and then comes straight out and joins Jack Nicholson’s gang. The film then proceeds as per IA with a little bit more swearing from Mark Whalberg, duplicity from Matt Damon and furrowed browisms from Leo. But this DEPARTURE causes the film its biggest problem. Becoz:

a) Leo is supposed to get quite seriously mentally disturbed by this double life. Sure that could happen in year, but in seven years it would be almost a shoo-in.
b) It restricts the length of the relationship both Leo and Matt have with the SOLE FEMALE CHARACTER***, which makes it seem even more convoluted.
c) It means that surely Jack Nicholson’s mob boss would have prime suspect when he was is looking for the mole in his gang.

Consider. In INFERNAL AFFAIRS the mob boss has his whole crew to suspect. Anyone of them could be selling him out. In THE DEPARTED he can perm between his long term faithful gang, or the new boy, who turned up when information just started to be sold, whose father hated the Mob and WHO UP UNTIL A YEAR AGO USED TO BE A COP. Kinda changes the dynamic.

Of course Scorsese could have pulled a fast one and got Nicholson to accuse Ray Winstone character on the grounds that his Irish American accent was in no way convincing. It would have made a plot point of what is the most jarring aspect of an otherwise pointless but very entertaining film. But then since I said much the same about Infernal Affairs, we can’t blame Marty again.

*Okay, completely unrelated film, but I always like to be reminded of it.

**What do you call a sequel that takes place in the middle of the time period of the previous film. Midquel will have to do.

***Note. I do not blame Scorsese totally for this. Firstly as Infernal Affairs, whilst having THREE female characters, had no idea how to use or characterise them. The Departed has only one, who is used as a ridiculous plot device and coincidence, but is very good in this role. Secondly Marty did direct ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE which in my book counters most claims of misogyny.