In South Boston, the state police force is waging war on Irish-American organized crime. Young undercover cop Billy Costigan is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Frank Costello. While Billy quickly gains Costello's confidence, Colin Sullivan, a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the state police as an informer for the syndicate is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit. Each man becomes deeply consumed by their double lives, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operations they have penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the mob and the police that there is a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly in danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy - and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save themselves. But is either willing to turn on their friends and comrades they've made during their long stints undercover? Written by
(at around 17 mins) Costello's signature on the condolence card on Mrs. Costigan's coffin clearly changes appearance between the two successive shots. See more »
[Sullivan tries to enter Queenan's office, but Dignam blocks his way]
Yeah, I got a problem. I run rat fucks like you, okay? I don't like 'em.
The day you wouldn't take a promotion, let me know. And if you'd taken care of this, I wouldn't even be here.
Fuck yourself, you piece of shit.
And I'm gonna need the identity of your undercovers.
Blow me, all right? But not literally, though. Unfortunately, there's no promotion involved for you.
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The title doesn't appear on screen until nearly 20 minutes into the movie. See more »
Everyone shoots everyone. ooops I gave away the plot!
Jack Nicholson does his impersonation of Rip Torn, Dicaprio and Damon are distinguished only because one of them (but which?) has some facial hair, and all of them and everyone else puts on a lousy "Southie" Boston accent so even the actors natively from there come across as fake. Except a few actors put on a fine Irish Brogue so you know they're Irish. Such entertainments are needed in this remarkably plot-free orgy of camp, grumbling, meaningless shootouts and poignant cell phone usage. I haven't counted to see if cell phones are used as often as guns, but no doubt a future thesis on the theme is lurking.
Jack Nicholson at one point refers to the John Hancock building. That's a building in Boston. Wow, Nicholson was so in character he might have just winged that.
Everyone calls everyone else a rat, or an undercover, and sometimes they say things like "He's undercover!," What undercover?" "No, he's my undercover." Abbott and Costello more humorously expressed it: Who's rat's on first?
There's also authentic Hollywood crime lingo, like "were you tailed" (a play on rats perhaps).
Everyone informs on everyone else and in the end, everyone shoots everyone else, except one person who's character is so vague you can look him or her in the eye and not know who. "I want my identity back," says one character, mysteriously. All of this highlights the key themes of the film, that everyone is everyone else, and in the end, only cell phones survive.
There's also a lot of looking in cell phones, presumably because to Hollywood types, even more than the rest of us, looking at cell phones is done often and always is a thrill.
This movie is a really good argument for having movies directed instead of run by mugging improvisers; alternatively a future film can dispense with actors entirely, and focus entirely on cell phones and computer screens.
However the City of Boston, played largely by itself, is convincing.
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