Viewed – 22 March 2016 Online rental
I think I’m not alone in being a little tired of Johnny Depp’s over-the-top caricatures in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice In Wonderland, even if he is often good in those roles. Occasionally however it’s nice to see him in a more normal acting role, and to some extent this is a perfect vehicle for him. He plays Boston gangster Jimmy ‘whitey’ Bulger; a ruthless and manipulative thug and leader of a local gang. One day however an old friend from the neighbourhood comes knocking to ask a favour, who also happens to be an FBI agent out to nail the local Mafia, and soon an awkward alliance is formed.
This gritty and occasionally very violent crime yarn based on true events is well cast and well directed and I was swept up by the realism and atmosphere. At first it takes a bit of getting used to Depp’s make-up and he stands out a bit compared to the other cast members for this, but thankfully an assured and gradually menacing performance shines through and Depp proves himself equally adept at villainous characters as he is light hearted ones. Also he’s not the only one who delivers a strong performance as the often underrated Joel Egerton (The Gift) is brilliantly conflicted as an FBI agent in bed with the devil. Benedict Cumberbatch turns up as Whitey’s politician brother but only adds marginal screen presence, and Kevin Bacon appears as a very shouty FBI chief. Yet it’s the uneasy relationship between Depp’s mobster and Egerton’s Fed that carries the movie and proves edge of the seat and powerful with a few moments that genuinely shock (the prostitute).
It may not be as complex or as layered as some crime epics, and how things wrapped up confused me a bit … but overall, I had a very good time with this and those after a decent crime thriller need look no further.
verdict: 4 /5