Scorsese Scores With 'The Departed'

I don't know why this film didn't have any Oscar buzz. Not any.

Well, it's getting some today … from me.

There is a level of tension here that never lets up. Watching this film is like walking a tightrope -- without a net.

It's one of the year's best pictures. It's also one of Martin Scorsese's best. And when you think of some other films he's made, that's saying something.

"You talkin' to me?" Robert De Niro says in "Taxi Driver."

Through "Goodfellas" and "Raging Bull," Marty Scorsese has been talkin' to us about the nightmare side of the American dream. And "The Departed" is one of his very best.

This is Jack Nicholson and Scorsese's first film together. What took them so long?

It's an adaptation of a Hong Kong cop film, "Infernal Affairs," and one of the rare remakes that's better than the original.

It's a tale of two cops. Nicholson is South Boston crime boss Frank Costello, and Matt Damon is his mole in the state police.

Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg are investigators who pull Leonardo DiCaprio out of the police academy and send him to jail, so he'll have a record and a reason for Costello to take him in.

By saying all this, I'm not giving anything away. We know from the start of the film who's the undercover cop and who's the undercover crook. But they don't. None of 'em.

Another thing I loved: Not since Hitchcock has a telephone created so much suspense. And these days, with cell phones, they're everywhere.

These are great performances, from Damon, from Wahlberg, and from DiCaprio, who is rapidly making his way from movie star to fine actor.

And Jack Nicholson? He does everything but pull out a Zippo lighter, reach his hand through the screen, and set the theater on fire.

Nicholson is so far over the top, he wraps around and ends up back in the world of the believable.

Great editing, too. You can tell because you can't tell: Three stories shift from one to the other, and you're watching so intensely you're not aware of it.

Yes, the film is violent. It's a film about violent men. And it's not gory, not by today's standards.

But if that's a concern, do be warned. Hey, it's only a movie, even if it is a great one. Grade: A