Infernal Affairs is haphazardly constructed and exceedingly difficult to follow, speeding through important plot points while stretching irrelevant scenes to ridiculous lengths.
In the American remake The Departed, Martin Scorsese and William Monahan oversee a welcome revamp of the script transporting its action from Hong Kong to South Boston, and from Asian gangsters to Irish-American ones. Fat has been trimmed and we’re left with a tight, fast-paced script which lets Leonardo Di Caprio, Matt Damon and especially Jack Nicholson shine.
In what is possibly his second best monologue after the watch scene from Pulp Fiction, Christopher Walken utters the following words in the largely forgotten yet underrated Poolhall Junkies:
You watch those nature documentaries on the cable? You see the one about lions? You got this lion. He’s the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He’s laying under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He’s so big, it’s so hot. He doesn’t want to move. Now the little lions come, they start messing with him. Biting his tail, biting his ears. He doesn’t do anything. The lioness, she starts messing with him. Coming over, making trouble. Still nothing. Now the other animals, they notice this. They start to move in. The jackals; hyenas. They’re barking at him, laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food that’s in his domain. They do this, then they get closer and closer, bolder and bolder. ’Til one day, that lion gets up and tears the shit out of everybody. Runs like the wind, eats everything in his path. ’Cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals, who he is.
The Departed is Jack Nicholson showing the jackals of the world who he is after a period of easy comedies. The man is just scary good, and is ably supported by Di Caprio and Damon, two actors who have been the butt of many jokes over the years but continue to impress me at least. Mark Wahlberg, too, is fantastic and should have beaten Alan Arkin for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
Scorsese is the king of the gangster genre, and in lending his brilliance to a Boston setting and Irish themes he’s made a movie better even than Goodfellas