The Departed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. From the early days of Blu-ray, this remained a positive presentation but it fell short of greatness.
Only minor issues affected sharpness. Most of the flick showed nice delineation, but exceptions occurred, as occasional wider shots appeared a bit soft and indistinct. Still, overall definition seemed positive and occasionally great. I noticed no shimmering or jagged edges, and source flaws caused small distractions; I saw a speck or two but nothing more. Edge haloes weren’t a factor, and I sensed no excessive noise reduction.
Departed went with a fairly subdued palette. The colors appeared fairly accurate and full within the movie’s design; skin tones were occasionally a bit reddish, but in general, the hues seemed fine. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while shadows demonstrated good clarity and definition. This was a good image but not a great one.
Though the Uncompressed PCM 5.1 soundtrack of The Departed never excelled, it filled out the action reasonably well. Despite the many crime-related sequences, the soundfield remained pretty chatty and music-oriented. These used the front channels well, and ambience also added to the proceedings. A smattering of louder sequences brought out nice involvement from the surrounds, but don’t expect them to dazzle. They worked as fairly minor participants most of the time.
Audio quality was positive. Speech occasionally sounded a little metallic, but the lines were always intelligible and usually appeared natural.
Music depended on the source. Score elements were vivid and full, and most of the songs followed suit, though they had some ups and downs. Effects seemed accurate and distinctive. While nothing about the audio stood out as particularly memorable, the mix succeeded for the film.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2006 DVD? The lossless audio had a little more zing, and the visuals showed stronger clarity and vividness. This was a nice step up compared to the DVD.
Some of the DVD’s extras repeat here. Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed runs 21 minutes and seven seconds. It includes interviews with director Martin Scorsese, Massachusetts State Police Major (Rtd.) Tom Duffy, Boston Globe reporters Shelley Murphy, Emily Sweeney and Kevin Cullen, state representative/author Brian Wallace, screenwriter William Monahan, Whitey Bulger’s former top lieutenant Kevin Weeks, A Criminal and an Irishman author Patrick Nee, former pastor of St Augustine’s Church Msgr. Thomas McDonnell, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.
“Fiction” looks at the tale of Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger and his parallels with The Departed’s Frank Costello. We get notes about the story’s adaptation and the South Boston setting, performances, and a few other filmmaking elements.
However, “Fiction” mostly concentrates on Bulger’s exploits. It provides a reasonably informative and concise look at the person behind the Costello character, all of which prove quite interesting for viewers of the film. I’d have preferred a documentary with a little greater length and depth, but this one offers some stimulating elements.
Crossing Criminal Cultures goes for 24 minutes, three seconds and features remarks from Scorsese, DiCaprio, Damon, Duffy, Nee, Cullen, John Jay College of Criminal Justice forensic psychologist Dr. Louis B. Schlesinger, actor Alec Baldwin, and Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers. “Cultures” looks at Scorsese’s “Little Italy” upbringing and its impact on his viewpoint. We also hear a little about the gangster flicks that influenced him as a kid. Scorsese discusses how references to those movies appeared in his later work, and we learn about the evolution of gangster flicks over the years. We find some coverage of violence in Scorsese’s films and various themes.
I really enjoyed many parts of “Cultures”. It’s fascinating to see the shots from the old films and watch their echoes in Scorsese’s own efforts. Overall, “Cultures” proves to be quite interesting.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we get nine Additional Scenes. These fill a total of 19 minutes, 24 seconds; that running time includes non-optional introductions by Scorsese. The disc presents the scenes as one long piece with no chapter markers, so you can’t easily skip from one to another. That’s awkward and somewhat frustrating.
As for the content itself, the scenes are largely insubstantial. We see a little more of Alec Baldwin, which is a good thing, and a few sequences go on a bit longer. This means extra character depth in some ways, and I like the flashback to young Billy and his dad. Still, the scenes don’t add much in general. Scorsese’s intros are useful, as he sets up the segments and lets us know why he left them out of the flick.
The Blu-ray drops only one extra from the DVD, but it’s a significant one: a nearly 90-minute documentary called “Scorsese on Scorsese”. It’s a good program so its absence disappoints.
While it forms an interesting picture, The Departed doesn’t match up with director Martin Scorsese’s best. It entertains and acts as a worthwhile experience, but it doesn’t leave a substantial impression like Scorsese’s more memorable material. The Blu-ray presents good picture and audio along with a few supplements; unfortunately, it drops the most substantial extra from the DVD. The absence of that documentary disappoints, but the Blu-ray delivers the more appealing version of the film itself.
To rate this film, visit the 2004 DVD review of THE DEPARTED