The Departed — or should I say The Depahted? — cheers the heart of this Boston movie critic like sunset over the Big Dig or Ortiz hitting another walk-off. Beantown movies come and go, and most of them, frankly, suck: The accents and the lingo are all wrong (no one has called anything ”wicked pissa” since 1987), the geography’s worse, and the sense of annoyed insularity particular to our corner of the universe rarely gets on film. The Friends of Eddie Coyle nailed it in 1973, but nothing since. Definitely not Good Will Hunting.
But here comes Martin Scorsese, an Italian-American kid from New York’s Little Italy, and his gangster movie, based on a Hong Kong action flick, no less, gets Irish South Boston right. How is that possible? Let us count the ways.
1. The script by William Monahan, a local from scrappy neighborhoods, understands the chains of family and fate that can bind men like cop-turned-faux crook Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) and crooked cop Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) to each other.
2. Jack Nicholson’s outsize mobster Frank Costello samples the legendary sadism of Boston’s infamous Whitey Bulger, who’s still No. 2 on the FBI’s Most Wanted list (after Osama bin Laden).
3. The racial politics tell it like it is: When DiCaprio says to Anthony Anderson, ”You’re a black guy in Boston — you don’t need any help from me to be completely f—ed,” that sound you hear is an entire city’s intake of breath. You don’t say that stuff here (which is the problem, actually).
4. Accents. They’re mostly spot-on, which makes sense, since both Damon and Dorchester’s own Mark Wahlberg are in the cast. Martin Sheen’s still doing the Kennedys, though, bless him.
5. Colorful blowhards on every corner. Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Ray Winstone all liven up the film’s background with aggressive blarney, and even a minor player like Brian Smyj (”Man Glassed in Bar”) bristles like he owns the place.
The extras on this two-disc special edition are fairly choice, and they draw a parallel between the director’s beloved goodfellas and the boys up north. Deleted scenes and a chatty 90-minute tour by Scorsese through his own career (liberated from Turner Classic Movies) are intriguing, but the best thing aside from the movie itself may be ”Stranger Than Fiction,” a mini-doc on Bulger that lines up state cops, Boston Globe reporters, local pols, the clergy, mobsters, and random guys from Southie to testify to what a bastard the man is.
There’s no director’s commentary, but you don’t miss it much. A play-by-play analysis by the bleacher creatures down at Fenway — now, that would be authentic. As it is, they could have packaged this DVD with a frank. A-