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5 Enthralling Movies like The Departed: Best of Action Thrillers

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Jonny_Sweet_itcher_contributorDid ‘The Departed’ keep you on the edge of your seat? You can skip a trip to the manicurists this month and use your chompers to keep your nails in check by watching ‘Donnie Brasco (1997)’, ‘LA Confidential (1997)’ or ‘Lucky Number Slevin (2006)’. ~ Jonny Sweet

There are many ingredients which make ‘The Departed’ such an enthralling watch… maybe it’s the star-studded cast that draws you in, with even minor characters being played by big Hollywood stars. Maybe it’s the gritty setting of Boston, the backdrop of a city full of harsh accents and harsher actions.

Maybe it’s the intricate plot, tightly wound around the fates of the two respective moles, and the cat-and-mouse games they play to try and catch each other.

Or maybe it’s Martin Scorcese himself, and everything he brings to the picture.

Whatever it is that hooked you, fear not! I have trawled through the internet and Blockbuster’s back catalogue to bring you six of the best movies like ‘The Departed’… so get the popcorn ready and read on.


Movies Similar to ‘The Departed’?

Of course, if you’re looking for good movies like ‘The Departed’, you need look no further than the repertoire of the director himself.

Martin Scorcese is a master at churning out compelling nail-biters… from ‘Taxi Driver’ to ‘Goodfellas’ to ‘Casino’ (click here for a list of movies similar to ‘Casino’) to ‘Shutter Island’, Scorcese understands fundamentally how to keep an audience engaged, alert, and itching to know more.

Sampling pretty much any of his films is almost guaranteed to satisfy.

Beyond Scorcese, though, there are a wealth of excellent films which capture a similar sense of excitement and tension as ‘The Departed’…

Here are my favourite six.

`Infernal Affairs´ (Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak, 2002)

Why not begin at the beginning?

If you’re unaware, ‘The Departed’ is actually a remake of this 2002 flick from Hong Kong… and in my opinion, the original is even better than Scorcese’s effort, commendable though it is.

It is a testament to the original that even such a lauded and accomplished director as Scorcese decided to keep many scenes exactly the same in his remake as in the original. Indeed, the very fact that he did makes ‘The Departed’ one of the finest movie remakes, even though its still an exceptional film.

Add to this a more heartfelt characterisation of minor players, and a less glamorous feel to the film as a whole, and I feel ‘Infernal Affairs’ has a grittier, rawer feel to it, which is entirely appropriate to the subject matter of the film.

Same story, same twists and even the same camera angles. ‘The Departed’ only differs from Infernal Affairs in language, setting, and cast.

`L. A. Confidential´ (Curtis Hanson, 1997)

This fantastically-well structured crime drama from the late 90s foreshadows ‘The Departed’ in its juxtaposition of different characters within the police force as they pursue the same objective.

Like ‘The Departed’, ‘L. A. Confidential’ boasts a star-studded cast, spearheaded by the trio of Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey, each at the peak of their acting powers.

Add to this the excellent supporting performances from the evergreen Danny DeVito and the seductively dangerous Kim Basinger, and you have a very polished cast across the board – notwithstanding James Cromwell’s cringeworthy accent.

Watching the hard-headed bully compete with the straight-laced stickler to uphold the rules as they all strive to arrive at the truth, is every bit as riveting as the denouement of Scorcese’s cop thriller.

Cops and corruption run amok in ‘L. A. Confidential’ and ‘The Departed’, and both feature in-fighting amongst the proponents of varying police methods.

`Donnie Brasco´ (Mike Newell, 1997)

Another fantastic film from 1997, uniting actors at the peak of their powers is ‘Donnie Brasco’, starring Johnny Depp as real-life undercover agent Joseph Pistone as he seeks to infiltrate a mafia family by befriending the underappreciated and aging Al Pacino.

With a similar storyline to ‘The Departed’ concerning moles in the enemy camp, this film goes much deeper than Scorcese’s in examining how such a job can affect the lives and personalities of those agents involved.

DiCaprio and Damon, for all of their excellent acting abilities, generally play one-dimensional characters… in ‘Donnie Brasco’, Depp allows us into the mind of a living, breathing undercover agent. Indeed, I was so impressed with the biographical aspect of this movie that it crept into my list of the top 12 biopics ever made.

Both ‘Donnie Brasco’ and ‘The Departed’ examine the role of an undercover cop in the mafia, though the former is more psychological and realistic, whilst the latter relies on smart lines, plot twists, and fireworks.

`The Town´ (Ben Affleck, 2010)

Sharing the same backdrop of Boston, Ben Affleck manages to capture a similarly abrasive feel to his thriller about a bunch of bank robbers struggling to keep their heists going, despite increasing heat from the police force and dubious relationships with witnesses.

While ‘The Town’ doesn’t match the same levels of intensity and tension as ‘The Departed’, it does keep you engaged in a similar manner and desperate to find out what happens to the characters… even if, as with ‘The Departed’, these characters are not always all that likeable.

While ‘The Town’ is just as entrenched in the nasally accent of Boston and the gritty territory that comes with it, it is far less complex or ambitious than ‘The Departed’.

`Lucky Number Slevin´ (Paul McGuigan, 2006)

If it was the complex nature of the plot of ‘The Departed’ that kept you engaged, with the constant back-stabbings and seemingly endless string of murders and assassinations, ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ should be right up your street.

Again, the film boasts a stellar cast, with ‘Josh Hartnett, Lucy Liu’ and Bruce Willis being joined by Ben Kingsley, Morgan Freeman and Stanley Tucci, which does not disappoint.

If you’re a fan of twists and turns in your plot, ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ is sure to tie you up in knots… you’ll have to really pay attention to stay in the loop with this one.

If ‘The Departed’ is about cops and robbers, ‘Lucky Number Slevin’ is mainly just about the robbers… though both share more plot twists than a corkscrew.


Favourite Characters

With such a famous cast, ‘The Departed’ offers up many memorable characters… as do my choices above. Hartnett’s Slevin, Michael Madsen’s Sonny Black, Pacino’s Lefty Ruggiero, or pretty much anyone from ‘L. A. Confidential’ are all fascinating personalities.Which are your favourites, either from ‘The Departed’ or any of the films I’ve mentioned above? Or do you have some alternative titles to propose?

Let us know below… capisce?

**For a video playlist of the recommendations, please click here.

I′m Jonny, an English Literature graduate who decided careers and mortgages were too mundane, and travelling, film, music and books were much more enticing. I have recently made a very comfortable nest for myself in Santiago de Chile, and on itcher Mag where I regularly contribute eloquent waffle on all manner of media.
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