The Departed Ending Explained & Film Analysis

Evil Eats Itself: The Essence of The Departed Movie. Detailed analysis plot, explanation of the ending, the meaning of the film, similar films.

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Crime

Year of production: 2006

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg

tagline: “At home among strangers”

Awards and nominations: In 2007, the picture received 4 Oscars.

Inspired by the real story of the corrupt interaction of the Irish criminal world with the American police, Martin Scorsese presented the audience with a strong police thriller drama, devoid of any clichés and genre attributes. The plot of the movie “The Departed” (The Departed) is interesting and non-trivial. The director does not ennoble criminal structures and does not pay attention to the mafia “dolce vita”. It tells a story about a game of cat and mouse in which it is not clear who is who, in a simple but engaging way.

What is the movie about

Brief description of the content of the film “The Departed”. Boston, Massachusetts. Frank Costello, head of the Irish mafia, takes young Colin Sullivan under his wing. Frank has big plans for the boy – he wants to make him “his man” in the police. Years later, Colin graduates from the academy, joins the state police, and begins leaking information to Costello on the details of his case.

Jack NicholsonJack Nicholson starred as Frank Costello and Matt Damon played the role of Colin Sullivan. Frame from the film.

Billy Costigan, who studied at the academy with Sullivan, is also trying to join the police, but Captain Quinan and Sergeant Dignam are in no hurry to accept the guy on the staff. There are three reasons for this: firstly, he is too quick-tempered, secondly, he earned himself a bad reputation during his studies, and thirdly, he comes from a “problematic” family. However, Costigan has other qualities – he is fearless and smart, so the authorities decide to make him a double agent. A complex special operation is being developed: Costigan will have to commit an attack, go to jail, get free and engage in drug trafficking. All this is necessary in order to infiltrate the criminal organization headed by Costello, become “one of your own” there and work undercover.

Sullivan, infatuated with forensic psychologist Madolyn Maidden, is gradually promoted and joins the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Costigan’s affairs are also going quite well – Costello notices him and brings him closer.

Some time passes and Costigan establishes that Costello is an FBI informant. The OCP leadership suspects that a “mole” has appeared, and entrusts Sullivan with the search for it. Searching for himself, he arranges surveillance of Costigan, in which he suspects an undercover cop. In turn, the double agent in Sullivan is suspected by Sergeant Dignam, who is also the connecting thread between Costigan and his leadership. After falling out with management, Dignam quits, and Costigan realizes that from now on he must act at his own peril and risk.

Darkness gradually gathers around Sullivan. Relations with Madolyn reached an impasse: being constantly under stress, he is a bad lover. The frustrated girl becomes close to Costigan.

Leonardo DiCaprioThe role of Billy Costigan was played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Frame from the film.

Sullivan soon discovers that Costello is an FBI informant. Upon learning that the group is going to take a consignment of cocaine, he organizes a raid. In the shootout, almost all the bandits die, including Costello himself. Costigan, who was also there, and several other people are taken to the police station. There, Costigan is declassified and he informs Sullivan that there is a “mole” in their department. Sullivan promises “colleague” that the informant will certainly be found.

A little later, after a little investigation, Costigan is convinced that Sullivan is the very “mole”. He passes the collected information to Madolyn and asks her to make it public in the event of his death.

Ending explanation

The explanation for the ending of the picture looks like this. Toward the end of The Departed, Costigan manages to bring Sullivan to the surface and arrest him. Suddenly, another police officer, Barrigan, who studied with both of them at the academy, appears in his path. Many years ago, he was also recruited by Costello and is now a mafia informant. Barrigan kills Costigan and frees Sullivan, but Sullivan unexpectedly shoots him.

At the end of the film, Sullivan returns home, where Dignam is waiting for him. The dumbfounded criminal does not have time to say almost anything – Dignam kills him.

The meaning of the ending of the film “The Departed” is quite simple: the ambitious Sullivan paid the price for his dirty games, and Dignam avenged the death of one of the best police officers.

The meaning of the film

Many viewers in their analysis admit that the ending of The Departed, in which both the antagonist and the protagonist died, shocked them. In the finale of the picture, there really remains some kind of smack of hopelessness: one gets the feeling that it was not good that defeated evil, but vice versa. But is this interpretation true? To answer this question, you need to look at the two main characters.

Colin Sullivan is a kind of minion of fate. As a child, he was taken under the wing of Costello, who later introduced him to the police department. Billy Costigan is almost a martyr. His father is dead, his mother is dying, and his own uncle was killed in a criminal showdown. He is constantly in suspense, and each step is given to him with great difficulty. Everyone likes Sullivan, everyone is nervous about Costigan. As the film progresses, it becomes clear that their antagonism is a confrontation not only of characters and destinies, but also of values.

Martin Scorsese has said more than once that the idea for The Departed grew out of his favorite classic gangster films, such as Scarface (1932). But the thing is, he didn’t just make an action-packed gangster movie for the sake of action: there’s a philosophical meaning behind the commercial packaging of The Departed.

“Marginal” Costigan, who throughout his short life proves that he is “not like that”, turns out to be an honest man, sincerely devoted to his work. At the same time polished, charming Sullivan is a cynic, a careerist and a traitor. Colin is not quite even a person, he is a social function, a shadow of the “godfather”, almost a robot. Unlike the constantly tormented Costigan, he enjoys the dangerous game of double agent.

Alec BaldwinAlec Baldwin as Ellerbee, Mark Wahlberg as Dignam. Frame from the film.

Scorsese has never hidden the fact that he is a Catholic. He always tries to unobtrusively “introduce” the basic principles of his faith into the films he shoots. Their meaning is quite simple: do not be egocentric, do not live according to the laws of the wolf, otherwise an inglorious end awaits you. This applies to anyone who disregards morality and the law, and Colin Sullivan is no exception.

The meaning of almost all Scorsese films fits into a simple scheme: evil triumphs in the world, but it devours itself and sooner or later will be punished. In this regard, The Departed is a dualistic picture. The essence of the film lies in its title: the apostates are not double agents, but those who work for the mafia. According to the worldview of the director, they are the apostates from the truth.

The film shows two faces of evil. Costello is a frank evil, imperious and rude. Sullivan is more dangerous evil because it successfully disguises itself as good.

Costigan fights on two fronts. Bad heredity, being in the criminal world, from which even a seasoned operative can easily make his head spin, and life under a mask make his service to the truth very painful. Serving good is much more difficult than serving evil. In the first case, suffering and deprivation are always waiting for a person, in the second (if, of course, you strangle your conscience) – success and comfort.

special departmentFrame from the film.

Yes, “The Departed” is another statement on the theme of the struggle between good and evil. It is easy to fall, but those who remember their ontological origins will be able to overcome temptation and keep their conscience clear. That’s what happened to Billy Costigan, a quick-tempered guy with a bad heritage. Not with words, but with deeds, he proved that it is still possible not to howl like a wolf, being among wolves. He died, but this does not mean that evil triumphed – after all, the werewolf Sullivan did not remain alive either.

“The Departed” is a kind of requiem for deceitful souls. The title of the tape contains its hidden meaning. “The Departed” is translated not only as “Apostates”, but also as “Departed”. If you take a sober look at the situation in which the heroes found themselves, it is difficult to imagine that any of them could have survived at all.

According to many viewers, this is one of Scorsese’s most tragic films. The tragedy that each character in the picture carries with him leads them all through the plot with a thin thread. The director makes it clear that there is no romance in the criminal world. It is built on death and the inevitable fatality of events.

Is it possible to avoid death by once standing on a slippery path? The director is sure not. Moreover, in all his films, he instructively emphasizes: no matter how much the rope twists, there will be an end.

fight between good and evilFrame from the film.

Similar films

Here are a few films similar in meaning to the movie “The Departed”:

  • “Lucky number Slevin” (USA, Canada, UK, Germany, 2005). Troubles are pouring on Slevin as if from a cornucopia: with a problem with the law, the girl went to another, and the local crime boss announced a hunt for him.
  • “Donnie Brasco” (USA, 1997). FBI agent Pistone is given a mission to infiltrate one of the Brooklyn gangs.
  • “Infernal Affairs” (Hong Kong, 2002). The policeman and the criminal play cat and mouse with each other. Moreover, everyone is sure that he is the cat here.
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