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DVD Review: The Departed, The Covenant


Since Little Quip is knocking on two years old, we rarely make it out to the first run movies. Sure, there are a plethora of films featuring happy, friendly, animated creatures, but since we crave a movie for grown ups, we’re relegated to NetFlix. It’s been a while since I shared any thoughts on the crop of available DVDs, so Mrs. Quip and I sat down this weekend to catch up on a couple of recent releases.

The Departed

First up was The Departed, the Martin Scorsese directed Oscar winner. The only other nominee I have caught so far is Little Miss Sunshine, so my gauge may be a little off, but the rest of the BP nominees must have been pretty mediocre if The Departed scored the win. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t terribly good either.

DiCaprio and Damon both did a very good job as undercover agents who have infiltrated the enemy territory and convinced their respective bosses of their loyalty. Toward the end of the film, DiCaprio tells Damon that he had the favor and trust of their boss – Jack Nicholson. The clear implication is that DiCaprio the rat, was more convincing to Costello than Damon the employee.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of their acting. Damon (and I know a lot of people disagree with this) is simply a much better actor than DiCaprio. Maybe the problem is Damon is just much more comfortable with the Southie accent, but he’s just more convincing. The two, however, completely outclass Nicholson.

Jack has reached the end of his career and apparently decided to keep playing the same character again and again. He’s now revised the same role for Batman, Witches of Eastwick, and The Departed, to mention a few. He’s going to end up like Marlon Brando – able to charge exorbitant amounts of money for the draw of his name, but ultimately unable to capture any of the magic of his earlier roles.

The biggest problem with The Departed, however, is the story. It’s predictable, there is little intrigue, and the ending is so contrived it’s pathetic. The story builds up this semi-adversarial relationship between DiCaprio and Wahlberg, and you figure the end will feature Wahlberg coming to the defense of his undercover agent. Instead, they conveniently suspend Wahlberg’s character in some sort of other-world where he completely ceases to exist. That is until he appears at the end of the film to tidy up the damage.

The ending is evidence of Quentin Tarantino’s impact on Hollywood. In just about every one of his films, the ending is the same – everybody dies. Scorsese took a page from that playbook and came up with a concocted story, and a weak ending to achieve the same effect. If that’s what they were after with this story, they should have gone to the master and let Quentin helm the pic.

The movie was entertaining, but of all the films that could have earned Scorsese the Oscar, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver were much better. This, to me, has the feeling of “we’re sorry” Oscars. They wanted to recognize Scorsese for being passed over by rewarding a rather mediocre movie with the Best Pic and Best Director nods. If you want to see Scorsese at his best, skip this and rent Goodfellas.

The Covenant

The Covenant is one of those films that has a great premise, and yet completely fails to deliver through a combination of poor acting, poor direction, poor writing, and poor special effects. If you stirke out on every one of those, you’re done. That’s where this movie comes in. Skip it on DVD, skip it on cable, and try to avoid the overwhelming sense of shame you’ll get from watching it.

The premise is, like I said, intriguing. What if the Salem witches were, in fact, actually witches? What if they had remarkable powers, some went into hiding after the trials, and their bloodlines continued with those powers through to present day. Sounds like it could make a good movie, right? Yes. But not this one.

Instead, the writers implement the cliché machine and start cranking out pablum. About five minutes into this flick, I turned to Mrs. Quip and asked if she had figured out the storyline. She replied that she had figured out the plot, the character development and the ending. It really is that bad.

We kept watching. We were hoping for, at the very least, an awesome battle to the death between the good guy and the bad guy. What we got though, was a weak version of catch featuring sparkling orbs of goo that make the ground explode when you drop the ball. Compound that with the typical plot device of “We never found the bad guys body… hmmm… what could that mean?” and you end up with a lame set up for a possible sequel.

If you don’t mind watching a movie, knowing full well that it may make you retarded, then this is the flick for you.



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Written by Michael Turk