Unfortunately, the payoff didn't work for me and the film, as a whole, was bleak and cynical. I had emotional investment in only one character, Costigan, and he gets his brains blown out. OK, OK...I'll admit, it was nice not to have the typical clichéd ending. Costigan would have been greeted by applauding cops, like Sullivan was. Then, on the verge of a big promotion, would have handed in his shield and walked out onto and down the street.....camera rises...fade to black.
So, I'm OK it didn't end that way. But holy moly, everyone gets shot in the head. Just as a matter of fact, it seems. There's no real "good guy", again, not necessarily a bad thing. However, you MUST be emotionally invested in someone. For me, it was Leo but just barely.
Essentially, everyone was a rat. That was pounded into my pointy little head from the first frame and then pounded in again and again and again. That's a lot to wade through just for that message.
Ultimately, the film felt like a waste of time. Everyone dies. Well, except for Dignam. And...every cop is dirty. Not just a little dirty....but shoot the other cop in the head, dirty.
Big disappointment. Maybe my love of 'Goodfellas' is blocking me. But I don't think so. It was one of the best films of the 90's.