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The Departed

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Departed Movie Poster Image
Violent, well-done thriller. Not for kids.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 151 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 32 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 59 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Both cops and criminals lie and abuse one another as a matter of course; men's bonding and competing are similarly violent.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Everybody seems to be working for someone else and it's hard to distinguish who is really the good guy.


Explicit, bloody, frequent violence: shooting (blood sprayed on surfaces), stabbing, head-bashing, shoot-out, suicide, car crash, kicking, exploding; a body thrown off a roof bleeds on impact; cops joke about bloody corpse/crime scenes and photos; a thug pounds on Billy's broken arm to ensure that there's no listening device in the cast; Frank fiddles with a bloody hand in a plastic bag while discussing plans; crooks burn down their hideout to avoid discovery; Billy worries about his coolness while working with a "mass murderer."


A couple of sex scenes show nudity (bodies in bed); Frank's girlfriend appears in underwear and they share sexual banter; recurrent sexual slang ("d--k," "c-nt," "screw," "whore," etc.); scene in porn theater includes brief shots of nude bodies and moaning sounds; Frank accuses priests of sexual abuse (using explicit language, like "p--ker"); Madolyn alludes to Colin's inabilty to perform sexually ("Do you want to talk about last night?"); Frank harasses teenager by asking if she's "started [her] period yet."


Frequent use of "f--k" (200+ instances); derogatory uses of "queen," "homo," "guinea," "mick" other profanity ("douchebag," "ass," "s--t," "hell," etc.).


Background imagery in bars (for example, Coca Cola or beer logos).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent cigarette-smoking; drinking in bars (sometimes leading to drunkenness); Billy asks for Valium, then takes prescription anti-depressants repeatedly.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film is not for kids -- but many will want to see it due to the incredibly heavy promotion during TV shows popular with kids. It's far too graphically violent for those under 17, including images of heads being shot and spurting blood, limbs being broken, bodies sprawled and bloody, and expressions of pain by victims of shootings and beatings. Sexual imagery includes a scene in a porn theater that cuts to the screen (the actors are engaged in sexual activity, but no X-rated shots are visible) and frequent sexual slang (some of which is homophobic). Characters smoke in almost every scene, and drink occasionally, and Billy takes pills throughout the film, indicating his increasing paranoia and depression.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMzMonique June 4, 2009

Although, GREAT FILM ...Not even a movie I would EVER chose to watch with my children!

First saw the beginning of this movie on cable channel (that censored some of the profanity) I was not able to finish it and ended up borrowing it from a librar... Continue reading
Adult Written bycutypa2ty April 9, 2008

Way graffic

Okay, this movie was probably the most graffic movie I have seen(but I don't usually watch many graffic films). I have to admit the story line was captiva... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byourblackego February 28, 2009

Brilliant but Disturbing

This movie was organally rated 17 and up???? What happened to this rating. There is no way this movie is apropiate for all let alone any 15 year olds
Teen, 17 years old Written bydouble E April 9, 2008


Anyone who think this movie is not good should not be allowed to live. This film is so good that I was jumping after the movie!!!! I am 16 and saw it with a f... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE DEPARTED centers on two moles working at cross purposes while using similar methods -- that is, tipping off their superiors to their opponents' plans via cell phones. Colin (Matt Damon) makes his way through the ranks of the Massachusetts State Troopers while spying for flamboyant Irish mobster Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). In turn, Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and pugnacious Sergeant Dignam (a very entertaining Mark Wahlberg) recruit their own mole, Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio) -- whose family background is filled with gangsters and crooks -- to infiltrate Frank's crew.

Is it any good?

A densely layered, lively saga of betrayal and revenge, The Departed features powerhouse performances and virtuoso profanity. Directed by Martin Scorsese and scripted by William Monahan, the movie is brutal and brainy, with speedy plot twists and deceptions layered on top of deceptions.

Less elegant, rowdier, and more neatly resolved than the original, The Departed loves its excesses. Scorsese grants Nicholson a wide berth, and his antics provide plenty of "color" (especially his rat imitation, as he worries out loud about finding the spy). Doubled and different at the same time, both Billy and Colin struggle with their "identities," cleverly illustrated by both the surveillance and communications technology (cell phones, wires, lost signals) they use and the film's editing, which emphasizes their parallel tracks and near collisions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difficulties posed by loyalties and lies. In order to do their job, the two moles have to lie to their friends, associates, and family. What emotional difficulties does that situation create?

  • What kind of stress would that put on your life over a long period of time?

  • How would you feel if you found out someone you cared about was living a double life?

  • Also, what function does Madolyn serve as the protagonists' therapist and lover? And how are both moles' "father figures" -- Frank the gangster and Captain Queenan -- similar?

Movie details

For kids who love action

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