Matt Damon's Best Movie: The Departed

By Eric Eisenberg 2011-03-03 20:21:23discussion comments
Matt Damon's Best Movie: The Departed image
[With The Adjustment Bureau hitting theaters on Friday, at Cinema Blend we've been thinking a lot about Matt Damon, and the star power that has kept him in the public eye for 15 years now. Starting off as a fresh-faced kid in the mid-90s, morphing into a bona fide action hero in the early 00s and snagging two Oscar nominations (and one win) along the way, he's had a career so varied that you can get into a lengthy argument with a friend about which film is his best, and both of you can be right. Which is exactly what we did, finally deciding we'd each pick a favorite and sing its praises. Continuing our series is Eric, who brings us to the corrupt Boston streets for The Departed. Hereís EricÖ]

By the time 2006 rolled around Matt Damon had become an entirely different kind of actor. Previously best known for dramas like Good Will Hunting and Rounders, he underwent an incredible transformation earlier in that decade, becoming a full-fledged action star as amnesiac former CIA operative Jason Bourne. But as great as Damonís stint as a hero had been, any actor will tell you that itís always more fun to play the villain, which makes Martin Scorseseís The Departed Matt Damonís best film to date.

Playing a slime-ball, rat-fink asshole who secretly works for the Boston mob while working his way up the ladder in the Boston Police Department, Damonís Colin Sullivan is the kind of villain you love to hate for the simple fact that he is a mirror image of the storyís hero, Billy Costigan (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). While Billy lives in constant fear of being caught, popping stress pills and contemplating suicide constantly, Colin is living the high life in an apartment overlooking the Massachusetts State House, earning the admiration of all his peers and doing whatever he feels like with total impunity. Having the opportunity, any audience member would love to punch Colin in the face repeatedly and would smile goofily while doing so.

Bile-inducing rage aside, what completes Colin Sullivan as a character is his flaws, namely his impotence. Jason Bourne rivals James Bond in the ďmanly menĒ department, but this douchebag canít get a boner. Itís a brilliant little detail because itís a flaw typically kept behind closed doors, but Scorsese and screenwriter William Monahan bring it to the forefront, giving the guy one final kick in the balls when you realize that his girlfriendís baby isnít his, but rather his heroic counterpartís. Itís a secret shame that allows the audience all kinds of delicious schadenfreude.

I first saw The Departed on opening weekend while I was going to college in Boston and the entire theater was packed. While the audience was absolutely crushed when Billy met his end in the elevator, there was a roar of applause like Iíve never heard in a movie theater before when a bullet was put between Colin Sullivanís eyes. It takes a truly magnificent performance and brilliant character to get an audience to cheer when they see a great guy and actor like Matt Damon get killed.

Which movie is Matt Damon's Best?

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[Check back for more in our Matt Damon's Best Movie series, coming right here later this week.]
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