Hey, Johnny Depp fans, are you still out there? I have to confess that his choices of quirky and/or repugnant movie characters have eroded my loyalty. This time he adroitly portrays the legendary Whitey Bulger, the most infamous criminal ever raised in South Boston. Director Scott Cooper ("Crazy Heart") working from a script written by a committee, shows us how this two-hour R-rated true-life story all came down.
This dark drama, which spans the 70s, 80s, and some of the 90s, features a foreboding score that telegraphs each shocking and bloody murder. The production design expertly captures those eras with authentic street scenes, automobiles and clothing. Warning: We're talking about Boston's Irish and Italian mobs, so the F-bombs spray like machine-gun bullets!
- * Johnny Depp ("The Lone Ranger") is Whitey Bulger, the brutally efficient mastermind who plays both ends against the middle as he bullies and charms his way to the top of his local Irish mob in South Boston, then beguiles an old childhood friend into using an FBI team to settle accounts with the Cosa Nostra in North Boston.
- * Benedict Cumberbatch ("The Imitation Game") is his brother Billy, a State Senator who shares that deep sense of loyalty, but who can see his brother for what he is.
- * Joel Edgerton ("The Great Gatsby") brings us John Connolly, the profoundly loyal friend who believes in his chum and does everything in his power to protect him.
- * Julianne Nicholson ("August, Osage County") His wife Marianne can see Johnslowly change and does NOT like it!
- * Kevin Bacon ("The Following") Charles McGuire won't rest until Whitey is brought to justice. His impatience is almost palpable.
- * David Harbour (Lots of TV) FBI man John Morris has his doubts, but Whitey keeps overcoming them.
- * Adam Scott ("Parks and Recreation") FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick is the fellow who breaks rank first.
- * Peter Sarsgaard ("Blue Jasmine") is Brian Halloran, a junky who does his share of enforcing but doesn't want to be on the receiving end.
- * Corey Stoll ("Ant-Man") Fred Wykshak is the new broom brought in by the FBI to sweep up this mess. His character was the only one I could root for!
This is organized as a series of vignettes which illustrate bits of testimony as former colleagues turn State's Evidence. In my opinion, Nicholson and Sarsgaard turn in the standout performances by far.
The subdued screening audience was mostly silent as we exited the theater. We learned one thing (SPOILER ALERT!): Crime does not pay.