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Alec Baldwin shouting ‘Patriot Act’ in The Departed: a close reading



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Alec Baldwin shouting ‘Patriot Act’ in The Departed: a close reading





























By: Kevin Nguyen
Illustration: Ricardo Santos


8.3.22
Martin Scorsese’s gangster flick and its obsession with the American surveillance state














Martin
Scorsese’s

vision
of
America
plays
out
as
a
country
of
cops
and
robbers.
Living
in
the
US,
you
find
yourself
on
one
side
or
the
other.
Or,
in
the
logic
of
his
2006
movie
The
Departed,
“when
you’re
facing
a
loaded
gun,
what’s
the
difference?”

The difference, in Scorsese’s self-consciously post-9/11 gangster flick, is the movie’s obsession with the surveillance state. The Departed cribs the ludicrous setup of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs: the police have a mole in the mafia (Leonardo DiCaprio), and the mafia has a mole in the police (Matt Damon). Narrative destiny tasks them with finding the identity of their counterpart, a conceit that sets off a converging mouse hunt — or maybe, in this case, a rat hunt.

Outside of being a showcase of varying degrees of convincing Boston accents,1 The Departed is a movie about tracking identities, wiretapped phones, and the autocratic invasion of privacy. In one infamous scene, the police have the jump on a shady exchange between Jack Nicholson’s goons and an inscrutable Taiwanese gang in need of some microprocessors.2 More urgently, the meeting site has been staked out with surveillance equipment: video cameras and phone location tracking. It’s Alec Baldwin’s operation, and he’s about to finally nail Boston’s most notorious criminal. “We’ve been after this cocksucker for a long time,” he says, before grabbing his balls. Admiring the technologies and policies empowering his bust, Baldwin excitedly shouts, “Patriot Act! Patriot Act! Patriot Act! I love it! I love it! I love it!”

1 A real toss-up between Martin Sheen and Vera Farmiga for the worst one.

2 It’s suggested that they will use them for warheads against China. It’s as unclear as it is improbable. I’ve also wondered if the appearance of triads in The Departed is a deliberate nod to the movie’s source material. That said, it’s suggested that the Taiwanese gang is what triggers the presence of the feds and DHS funding.

https://www.theverge.com/c/23280403/the-departed-patriot-act-alec-baldwin-close-reading


Post ID: bf530e46-1126-4ad8-8b3c-ce63f81092cd
Rating: 1
Updated: 3 days ago
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