Many drew back in horror when Brad Pitt announced plans to produce a remake of Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs. However, when director Martin Scorsese came on board and brought Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson along with him, an air of calm was restored. The result is a "slick and soulful" account of double-dealing cops on a fatal collision course.
In a section of 9 additional scenes, Scorsese explains that this footage simply didn't fit within "the structure" of the film. They're mostly 'character moments' designed to give a better feel for the psychological makeup of Billy Costigan (DiCaprio) and Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon). In a flashback, we see Billy's dad conversing with Costello (Nicholson), but making it clear that he wants no part of 'the life'. Scorsese admits he was especially sad to see this one fall to the cutting room floor as it features one of his favourite lines - Costello urging Costigan Snr to "Wake up and smell the coffin." Other scenes find Billy smart-mouthing his academy drill instructor and Colin spinning yarns for Internal Affairs.
Scorsese explains why he's so drawn to the urban underworld in Crossing Criminal Cultures. It's quite a substantial featurette recalling his days growing up on the streets of Little Italy in New York; "You have to live with that violence," he says, "The thing to do is not get into the violence." Nonetheless one of a few film experts contributing to the discussion asserts that Scorsese is "both attracted and repelled" by the bloodletting. Besides that they talk about a sense of conflicted morality that links Mean Streets through Goodfellas to The Departed.
A Not-So Grand Departure
In case you thought The Departed was too outlandish to be true, Stranger Than Fiction reveals the true-life exploits of gangster Whitey Bulger and his covert dealings with the FBI. Although Scorsese's film is officially based on Infernal Affairs, it's Whitey's story that inspired screenwriter William Monahan. He adds that, "It was important to personalise it," explaining that he could relate to the two main characters as "angry young men from Boston." Fellow Bostonite Mark Wahlberg had a similar experience, although he says that, "I'm playing one of the cops who used to arrest me all the time." It's a shame we don't get to hear more from Kevin Weeks, who had been a lieutenant in Whitey's organisation. At the same time we don't blame the interviewer for shying away. We're told that Whitey Bulger is still at large and at No.2 on America's Most Wanted list (after Osama Bin Laden).
As usual Jack Nicholson declines to comment and there is no director's commentary for the main feature either. Sadly for those who would rather see a great filmmaker at work, there are only brief snippets of behind-the-scenes footage. This DVD set is hardly generous, but what little background information it does provide is certainly intriguing.
The Departed DVD is released on Monday 19th February 2007.