The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
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Not nearly as dreadful as one would expect based on all those reviews, but stretched to 122 minutes it can grow surprisingly dull for a movie about a trigger-happy psychopath tearing up South Boston in the Eighties. The good news is, it's anchored by a stellar cast, with Joel Edgerton and Peter Sarsgaard impressing the most. As for Depp, the irony is he plays it more like a vampire here than he did in "Dark Shadows."
Another Hollywood production. Another gangster story. Another ruthless criminal. Another corrupted cop. Move on, people, there's nothing that you have not seen a billion times before aside from Johnny Depp's incredible make up.
If I ignore the ridiculous idea that Depp had to undergo a transformation to look like a regular ol' fella, I can admit that his performance is still quite good at times. Tense, haunting even - due to his unpredictability. It's a shame there was nobody to complement it - most performances bordering on caricature. In the end, this was pretty poorly assembled and squandered a lot of potential. Had its moments, though.
Am I the only one on planet Earth who thinks that Johnny Depp as kingpin Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger is massively overrated? Is it crazy to argue that the mannered expressions and overbearing physicality is Depp, as usual, grandstanding? And why did director Scott Cooper and d.p. Masanobu Takanayagi approach the material with such unnecessary, phony reverence? Trust me. The best scenes are in the trailer.
Depp gives a transformative strong turn here as Whitey Bulger but unfortunately the film is so poorly structured and edited that it nears crime film parody. Poor framing device is soon ignored and editing choices seem under thought at best. Most of cast play to type with no performance on screen matching Depp's commitment. There are several strong moments here and there but even those seem under directed. A miss.
There were clearly several conflicting ideas on how to shoot this film behind the scenes. The lack of a clear perspective as well as the extremely poor storytelling amount to an uninventive, inert, boring and utterly irrelevant film.
Aggressively mediocre, unconvincing and utterly inert. Depp's performances is blunted by a lack of narrative clarity and bafflingly poor staging. A dinner provocation lands with a thud; his relationships and past are raised only to be dropped without further exploration. Taken together with the grotesque visual design of the character, Bulger becomes a phantom, an aimless malicious spirit more than a complex person.
Scott Cooper's films always have me feeling cynical and gloomy as hell at the end, but that's part of their charm. A stellar ensemble cast, helmed by Johnny Depp's best performance in over a decade, turn what could've been a standard crime drama into a very observant picture. Lingering shots of facial expressions, mannered movements, and eyes gives these characters more humanity than many of them deserve.