Friday, March 16, 2007

My Problem with The Departed

(Warning: The following post contains spoilers about Reservoir Dogs and The Departed)

I loved the movie. It featured some brilliant acting, a great story and great direction. I just…hated the ending. The movie was going great till about ten minutes from the ending, at which point everyone started going plop-plop-plop. Everyone except for Mark Wahlberg, that is – but given how everyone else was disposed of, I’m more inclined to think he was kept alive either for a sequel (which is on its way, apparently) or simply because there should be one person left alive at the end to shoot the second-last person.

The last movie I saw with an ending that was remotely similar was Reservoir Dogs (only Mr. Pink survives). I saw the movie a long time ago, so I don’t remember it well enough - but I do remember being rather impressed by the shock ending, because till then, I hadn’t seen any movies which chopped off all the main characters within a span of some 20 seconds. With The Departed, however, I felt somewhat cheated at the end.

The better movies are those that bring alive their characters – that make me watch every scene wanting to know what happens next to these people. Which is why I expect proper closure for every major character in a good movie – I’d rather not see a character say “I’ll be right back”, never to be heard of again. The directors and story writers need to decide what to do with every character by the time the movie ends. Mostly, deaths are integral to the storyline – but sometimes killing off a character becomes a shortcut, a way for the director to finish off the movie without having to decide what to do with that particular person.

A lesser director and a simpler storyline would’ve made things simpler, because most movies still fall into the “Good vs. Evil” category – villain goes around doing evil stuff, good guy goes around doing good stuff, and in the end the bad guy dies because it’s the righteous thing to show. Some movies go to extreme extents to make the contrast obvious, for example Ghostrider, which actually shows Nicolas Cage, complete with flaming skull, leather jacket and chains in hand, stopping his bike to save a lady from a mugger. But that’s a different story, and one better left unsaid. Who should die and who should survive isn’t even a question in such movies – it just boils down to how the bad guy eventually dies.

The Departed, however, made things interesting by making every character a different shade of grey - barely any character was Surf-Excel-white. While watching The Departed, I was wondering at several points at what the ending would be – would the weasely guy (Matt Damon) kill off Leonardo and secure his own future? Would Leo get Damon sent off to jail? And if that happened, what would the law do with Dicaprio, given that he was a plant himself? Would Wahlberg resurface in time to tell the cops that he had sent Leo to infiltrate Nicholson’s gang?

The story, however, eventually ended up taking the “Ek-tha-Raja-Ek-thi-Rani-dono-mar-gaye-khatam-kahani” route….killing off everyone. No tough moral decisions to make, no problems.

And that’s the problem I had with an otherwise brilliant movie.

1 comment:

Ashwin said...

if he hadnt killed off everyone, he wouldve had to name the movie something else!

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