Going Deep Cover
So I'm sitting here listening to Howard Shore's score for the movie "The Departed" looking for ideas to blog about when inspiration hit me. Why not do an entry about what "The Departed" is about? Going undercover in a criminal world and trying maintain your identity. Being forced to do a number of wrong things in order to do one big right one. So let's talk about some DVDs and graphic novels that explore the murky world of going undercover. "The Departed": I suppose we should start with the film that inspired this entry. Since this film came out last year I won't say much about it, except to say that Martin Scorsese's crime epic about a cop undercover as a crook and a crook undercover as a cop definitely deserved it's best picture Oscar win. "Donnie Brasco": It's hard to believe that this film is ten years old now. You'd expect a film starring Johnny Depp and Al Pacino to be great and this film is. This film is based on the book written by real life undercover FBI operative, Joseph D Pistone, whose time inside the mafia brought down a number of powerful underworld figures. Depp plays Pistone AKA Donnie Brasco, whose time undercover leads him to befriend one of the criminals he's trying to bring down. Al Pacino plays the mobster Donnie Brasco befriends. Their friendship gives a great film an added power and poignancy "Deep Cover": I saw this movie years ago and didn't appreciate how good it was until I saw it again recently on cable. Lawrence Fishburne plays an undercover cop who starts to enjoy the world he's pretending to be part of. Jeff Goldblum plays a lawyer and drug dealer that Fishburne's cop needs to get close too. This film delivers because of Fishburne. He really shines as a man trying to hold onto his sense of himself and what's right in a world of addictive and corrupting power "Sleeper Cell" Seasons One and Two: This show has been described as 24 with a brain and I agree. Whereas 24's Jack Bauer confronts a painfully boring world of black and white cardboard cut out villains, Sleeper Cell's main character Darwin Al-Sayid (wonderfully played by Michael Ealy) must confront a more grey hued and interesting world. Sayid is a devout Muslim FBI agent who goes undercover inside a radical fundamentalist Muslim terror cell operating in Los Angeles. The villains in Sleeper Cell are evil but instead of making you hate them, the show dares to do something different and more powerful, it forces you to understand them and in a way even feel sorry for the path that they've chosen. I'm only one disc into the second season of this series but so far it's just as compelling as the first season. For those of you looking to explore the morally murky world of undercover work on the four color comic page, I strongly suggest the "Sleeper" graphic novel series by the acclaimed team of writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips. Sleeper has been described as Donnie Brasco with supervillains but readers shouldn't think the presence of super powered people makes the story a light read. The Sleeper series is every bit as dark, twisted and morally murky as any of the DVDS on this list. The Sleeper series begins with "Point Blank" a sort of prequel by Brubaker and artist Colin Wilson, which sets up the main character's predicament. The series than continues with Sleeper Volume 1: Out in the Cold by Brubaker and Phillips, in which undercover agent Holden Carver finds himself trapped inside the supervillain cartel he's infiltrated after his handler is shot and put in a coma. In Sleeper Volume 2: All False Moves, Carver's life gets even more complex as he finds himself forced to do even worse things to survive and tries to fight his growing attraction to the beautiful and psychotic supervillain Miss Misery In Sleeper Volume 3: A Crooked Line, A way out for Carver emerges as his handler awakes from his coma but it may be that Carver has grown to like his new life as a super powered criminal. In the final chapter of the series, Sleeper Volume 4: The Long Way Home, trapped between two factions he despises, Carver hatches one last desperate plan to escape his dark and dangerous world.