This week’s scene is one of my favorites from The Departed, Martin Scorsese’s epic about cops and crooks in Boston. It’s a brief scene but it’s powerful. The entire film is a web of fantastic performances and a story filled with violence and lies.
Here’s a little background for the scene. Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), an undercover cop infiltrating Frank Costello’s (Jack Nicholson) criminal organization, has just met with Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen), one of the only men that knows he’s actually a cop. Colin Sullivan, (Matt Damon) Costello’s mole inside the Massachusetts State Police, has sent a team of officers to tail Queenan, under the guise he suspects he is actually the mole.
Our scene is a study in violence, the kind that crescendos to a brutal finish. Costello’s men also follow Queenan to his meeting with Costigan. Once our heroes realize they’ve been followed, Queenan sends Costigan down the fire escape and stays to face Costello’s thugs. This is where our scene begins and it's also where the shit hits the fan. There’s something about the moments afterwards. Reality literally landing at Costigan’s feet. The confusion among the cops waiting outside (“Sarge, something just came off the building!”). And at 1:15, Sullivan, listening on his walkie talkie from afar, realizes it’s all gone to shit.
The best part of the scene is the last few moments. Sullivan, realizing the extent of what’s just happened, turns off his radio and his lights and just sits in the dark.
P.S. There’s a slightly longer (and lower quality) version of the scene here. We get to see Queenan in the moments before his death. “One of you mugs got a light?” he asks. They most definitely do not, but I absolutely love that line.