Before starting I must confess to watching this film never having seen the original and without realizing there was one. After reading some of the comments here I will pick up internal affairs and watch it. Having discovered the film is a remake of a superior foreign film this explains a lot (though probably not all) of what makes this such a bad film.
But I am happy to take the film stand alone on its own merits, of which there are few. For Scorsese to stoop to this debacle after masterpieces like Mean Streets and Goodfellas is shocking. The fact that this won so many awards is beyond me.
Let's review the completely unbelievable plot points: - Gangster Nicholson allows former cop (who he knows is a former cop) DiCaprio become his right hand man seemingly moments after joining his gang.
- Nicholson discovers there is a mole in the organization. And can't work out that it's DiCaprio, his latest recruit. Ludicrous. This appears to be a gang of less than ten people. Give me a break.
The whole film falls apart right there - if you can't believe the main premise then it's failed. But let's go on.
- DiCaprio is the only gangster not to give his ID number to his boss, but he is still above suspicion.
- Rotten Cop Damon gets away with blasting his boss Nicholson - and there is no investigation?
- Nobody ever subpoenas cell phone records (a very easy thing to do)
- Damon and DiCaprio just happen to be dating the same girl.
- Said girl is given incriminating tape of Damon by DiCaprio. Nothing is ever done with this tape though. Was this cut out to trim the film under three hours?
- Said girl agrees to go for a coffee with her patient DiCaprio. This doesn't happen in real life. Psychiatrists do not date their patients. Not even Frasier did that and that was supposed to be comedy.
- Police records are completely erasable by one person with no backup and no trace remaining. Nonsense.
- The final scenes at the building are ludicrous. Characters only briefly touched upon at the beginning of the film are suddenly players in the big game to the point where they will commit cop murders. I'm not sure I understood why it needed to be on the roof anyway. From what I understand this was in the original film but there was a reason for it. Poorly executed.
- Jack Nicholson is Boston Irish. Maybe he is of Irish descent in reality - but he sure can't play it well.
- Err, the State Police in central Boston? No - that's BPD's turf. They at least have to work with BPD.
- Gangsters throw a captain of the State Police off a building and there are no fingerprints or other evidence available later.
And now for the pointless time wasters: Obviously Scorsese is big enough and powerful enough that he can dictate cuts (or lack thereof) to the studio at this point. Unfortunately this leads to a self indulgent two and a half hour (felt like four hours) film and convoluted story telling
- The whole plot with the girl psychiatrist. What is this for? It serves absolutely *no* purpose in the film other than to make it longer and less believable. Even her pregnancy is left hanging. I really get the feeling they filmed a lot more but had to quickly cut to get the length down. This is why studios have editors. Let them do their jobs and cut the drivel from films and make them entertaining.
- The whole setup in police academy. That's half an hour right there that should have been cut out of the film.
- The stupid porno/hooker stuff with Nicholson. Pointless, plot irrelevant and simply unnecessary. Goodfellas managed to be a great film without that. Although there was one light moment when Jack implied he can't raise the titanic any more. Art imitates life I guess.
- The OTT language. I'll believe it from gangsters but special investigators tend to be a bit more pro.
- The sex scene was just silly
Now let's throw in some bad casting/bad directing decisions: - Having Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio play the leading roles, both cops with crew cuts. They are both good actors but something should have been done to differentiate between the two in terms of physical appearance. These guys look too much alike in the opening sequences - waaay to confusing. This is solved later when DiCaprio starts to look more ragged.
- Whatever happened to the FBI angle? Why bother with it if it is unused?
- Too many stars. They all demand face time which makes the film drag. It would have been better with some unknowns.
- The whole secret cell phone deal was used how many times? Repetition plagued this film all the way through.
OK - so you get it. The film has a plot full of holes and drags on for hours. It promises so much and delivers so little, which is why it deserves so few marks from me.
The one star, if I must give one, is for Alec Baldwin who is hilarious as one of the senior cops and steals every scene he is in. In a cast of stars that's a pretty neat trick.