Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA/Hong Kong, 2006. Warner Bros., Plan B Entertainment, Initial Entertainment Group, Vertigo Entertainment, Media Asia Films. Screenplay by William Monahan, based on the screenplay Mou Gaan Dou by Alan Mak, Felix Chong. Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus. Produced by Brad Grey, Brad Pitt, Gianni Nunnari, Graham King. Music by Howard Shore. Production Design by Kristi Zea. Costume Design by Sandy Powell. Film Editing by Thelma Schoonmaker. Academy Awards 2006. Golden Globe Awards 2006. Gotham Awards 2006.
Martin Scorsese returns to the mean streets of Gangland (this time in Boston) for a riveting action drama that is as rich in character as it is in torrid violence and rampant expletives. Jack Nicholson steps into Daniel Day-Lewis’s shoes in a modern version of Gangs Of New York‘s Bill The Butcher, as a crime lord with no soul who puts one of his own men (Matt Damon) in the state police as an informant. Meanwhile, new Academy graduate Leonardo DiCaprio (in his best performance ever) has been recruited by his superior officers to go undercover into Nicholson’s ring and rat on them to the boys in blue. These young men find themselves in a spiderweb of plotting that takes them both in and out of explosive situations before the final resolution, all kept at a breakneck pace by Scorsese’s fantastic (and for the first time in years, understated) direction that eschews most of the usual fancy editing techniques and sticks to a more Spartan style of storytelling. All the better for us as an audience, who are too fascinated by the constant twists in the plot to really care about savvy techniques. All the performances in this remake of the Chinese hit Infernal Affairs are magnificent, including Vera Farmiga, who does her best with the film’s main weak point; her character strives for a Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential effect of providing the emotional heart of a tough-as-nails story, but her motivations are far too whimsical to make her admirable. Brad Pitt was originally set to star in the Damon role, but remained as producer (along with then-wife Jennifer Aniston) after dropping out.