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The Departed is a film directed by Martin Scorsese which won numerous awards at the 79th annual Academy Awards. Scorsese has directed many films that have won academy awards but he had never achieved the award for the best director. This changed with the 2006 release of The Departed and Scorsese got what he had ached for so many years. This film was indeed a film that I enjoyed watching. However it also got me thinking what role ethics played in this blockbuster. During the beginning of the movie Jack Nicholson adopts Matt Damon and treats him like his own child.
Damon wants to be a priest when he grows up. If you’re a priest you most likely won’t kill anyone even if it is for self defense because killing is a sin. However being the clever genius that Nicholson is asks Matt Damon “when you’re facing end of a loaded barrel, what difference does it make? ” Nicholson’s character, Frank Costello adopts Damon’s character, Sullivan mainly for personal intelligence purposes. He wants to have a mole in the SIU department like the government has moles in the Mafia families.
The best person suitable for this job would be someone that you have raised as your own because the trust will always be there. Nicholson shows good ethics when he takes Damon under his wing. However as the movie progresses we find the true motive for the adoption. Nicholson wants someone who he can trust, that can keep him one step ahead of the law which is morally wrong. When Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Costigan is training for the job of a police officer he is denied the job due to his family ties to the Boston underworld. Costigan is really a good guy affiliated with a bad name.
Vice versa Damon is a bad guy affiliated with a good name. Jobs shouldn’t be lost because of someone’s family affiliation with certain groups especially if the person applying wants to change all that and has the knowledge and the will power to do so. I understand the phrase “like father, like son” but that isn’t always necessarily true. The world is not just black and white; it has shades of grey in it as well. Later in the movie we find that Frank Costello himself is a possible informant for the FBI and that he has recorded conversations of himself talking about illegal activities with Matt Damon.
He has done this as a precaution incase the FBI indicts him in an even more serious case. If the FBI does indict him he will use the tapes as a leverage to get a reduced sentence or immunity. This is not very ethical because he adopted a son for his own freedom from government agencies. Towards the end of the movie it is really ironic that Jack Nicholson dies by what he told Damon so that he wouldn’t become a priest. “When you’re facing the end of a loaded barrel, what difference does it make? ” Matt Damon was facing the loaded barrel of Nicholson’s gun but Damon got to pull the trigger first.
Because of Nicholson’s bad ethics he got what he deserved by getting shot by his own adopted son whom he used for pure personal protection from government agencies. In the final scene of the movie when Matt Damon is shot dead by Mark Wahlberg it was unethical of Wahlberg to shoot Damon. He should have gathered evidence for a trial by a jury. However I think the murder was justified and fair for a better society. He could have played by the rules. But since Matt Damon didn’t play by the rules why should Mark Wahlberg.