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Crime and consequences

Movies | The Departed brilliantly depicts man's depravity

Issue: "Double trouble," Oct. 21, 2006

Crime movies generally have muckraking views of the world, and none shows Boston's muck more vividly than The Departed. The film earns its R rating for torrents of brutal violence, foul language, and some sexual and drug elements.

The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese from a gritty, witty William Monahan script, has no redeeming social value except one: It brilliantly depicts the depravity of man and the consequences of immorality. It is thus a more moral film than those that gloss over life without God.

The film displays nuanced acting by Matt Damon (a bad guy posing as a good guy policeman) and a maturing Leonardo DiCaprio (a good guy, deep-undercover cop posing as a bad guy). Both want to please father figures, one played by a satanic Jack Nicholson and the other by a sympathetic Martin Sheen. Both-we suspend disbelief for this-love the same woman, played movingly by Vera Farmiga: She's a faithful listener in a world where almost everyone else is faithful only to the Red Sox.

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Much as John le Carre's Cold War novels showed the loneliness and tiredness of spies and moles on both sides, so deceptions and lies become packs of earthly burdens that increasingly weigh down the Damon and DiCaprio characters. This 149-minute movie holds an audience's attention and will also hold the attention of many Oscar voters.

But again, be warned. I place The Departed with The Godfather and Miller's Crossing as the top trio of American crime films, but it's more brutal than either. It's also a superb depiction of one part of Boston, the hub of the area where I grew up and worked as a reporter. Some tourists go to New England in the autumn to see colorful leaves, but this movie will leave some Christians thinking about a different type of fall.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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