Frank Costello (played by Jack Nicholson) is an Irish-American gang boss in South Boston, USA. The gang has been pursued by police for years for their range of organised criminal activities. Colin Sullivan (by Matt Damon) as been indebted to Costello since he was young and (as well as being a made member of Costello’s gang) he is now a respected Massachusetts State Police officer. At the same time, an ambitious loner, Billy Costigan (by Leonardo Di Caprio) has enrolled in the police academy with great aspirations for himself in the state police force. As soon as he graduates, Billy is recruited as an undercover cop to infiltrate Costello’s gang. To achieve this, his police contacts Captain Queenan (by Martin Sheen) and Sergeant Dignam (by Mark Wahlberg) instruct him through stage-managed disgrace and ejection from the police and a jail term, so that he can infiltrate Costello’s gang. From the outside, Sullivan’s job is to tip-off Costello when the police are getting close. From the inside, Costigan must warn police of the Costello gang’s activities. To complicate things further, both Sullivan and Costigan become involved with the same woman, the beautiful Madolyn (by Vera Farmiga), who is the police and government psychiatrist.The gang and the police become aware of a “rat in their ranks” and each man becomes obsessed with finding the traitor in their midst first, without being revealed themselves or breaking the trust of their gang-mates.
This is a gem by Martin Scorsese. From the outset, the story is told very well with exceptional camerawork, well written script, expert pace and development of suspense. The performances are first class – it’s hard to pick out a stand-out because of the veritable galaxy of stars, but of course Jack Nicholson gives a marvellous performance as the cold-hearted Costello. Ray Winstone plays Costello’s right-hand man, Mr French and Alec Baldwin is the very entertaining police captain Ellerby. Equally marvellous are both Leonardo Di Caprio and Matt Damon – excellently cast in these roles and Mark Wahlberg is very good. Martin Sheen’s Captain Queenan is totally believable and realistic. Excellent work by everyone.
It is 2½ hours long, but you don’t notice that as it’s such a good, well told movie. Very good – just like “Good Fellas” and “Casino”.