James ” Whitey” Bulger ( Johhny Depp) was one of the most notorious criminals to run South Boston for the better part of a decade. His actions with the Boston crime mob the Winter Hill Gang went largely unchecked due to his alliance with the FBI as an informant. With the one common goal, to bring down the Italian Mafia, John Connelly ( Joel Edgerton) enlisted his help, effectively turning a blind eye on the racketeering, murder, narcotics distribution and extortion that he was involved in.
This allowed him to become one of the most ruthless, powerful crime bosses on the history of Massachusetts. Whilst Bulger controlled the criminal underworld his brother Billy Bulger ( Benedict Cumberbatch) remains a powerful leader in the Senate. Eventually his luck ran out and with the law catching up with him, Bulger went on the run remaining a fugitive for 16 years.
Told through the eyes of former associates the film covers the crime career of Bulger showcasing much of the illegal activity that he was responsible for. As the body count gets higher his old friend John Connelly finds new and creative ways to prove to the FBI that their star informant is invaluable to bringing down the Italian Mafia.
It’s a graphic portrayal of one of the most notorious crime bosses to ever run South Boston. At times the film is confronting as the reality of just how cold and calculating Bulger was. He was ruthless and took offence to anyone that betrayed him quite often slaying people that betrayed or informed on him – often with his own hand
Once you get past the receding hairline, ice blue eyes and cracked teeth all prosthetics that transformed Johhny Depp into Bulger, his ice-cold stare draws you in. He is chilling and somewhat unsettling. However the storyline also chooses to highlight parts of Bulger as the devoted son, brother and father that he was making him at times a little more human. Each cast member supports Depp with equally stellar performances, Edgerton and Cumberbatch both brilliant in their own right.
Whilst it is not the first time the Whitey Bulger story has been bought to the screen Director Scott Cooper has done an exceptional job of bringing the story to the screen.