Saturday, February 19, 2011

Infernal Affairs. A-

In some ways I prefer the Hong Kong version Infernal Affairs over Martin Scorsese's remake. I think it's a tremendously well made action movie, sleek, swift, and made with efficiency. In the classic days of movies, thrillers didn't have a lot of time (usually 95-100 minutes) to tell a story, explore characters, and excite the audience, yet they still managed to haunt us. The scripts never wandered and were tightened to the point where nearly every action contributed to story or character. That's sort of what it was like watching Infernal Affairs, a densely plotted cop movie that I won't elaborate on because you've probably already seen it, or The Departed, or both. The Departed roams on for two and a half hours, but Andew Lau and Alan Mak's film is briskly paced and nearly an hour shorter. I really like The Departed, but more as entertainment than a Scorsese movie. The Lau-Mak version has the same entertainment values, is much shorter (here I guess it's a good thing) and actually got my emotions running more than The Departed did. Lau and Mak use formula, yet their story is so ingenious that we hardly notice. And their since of style is every bit as acute as Scorsese's is. But when I look at these two films side by side, there are two things in the original that are enough to make it equal if not superior to the remake: first, it doesn't use the ridiculous love triangle that added unnecessary pulp melodrama to the 2006 version. And secondly, it ends the way Scorsese's version should have. The rat in the police department gets away, which is far more morally interesting than having him just getting shot. I know Scorsese was going for a complete American tragedy that dealt with the full on repercussions of violence, but it was just a silly way to close a picture. And finally, with this version we don't have to deal with that harebrained final shot of the rat walking across the window sill. This movie is awesome.

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