KEEP YOUR ENEMIES CLOSE.
In the late 1970s, the FBI makes a deal with up-and-coming Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp); in exchange for information on his rivals, the authorities turn a blind eye to Bulger’s activities. One of the most outrageous cases of corruption, where law enforcement ended up protecting the most dangerous mobster in the history of Boston, gets a traditional but engrossing take in this movie that focuses on Bulger and the Special Agent who became too close to his old neighborhood. The filmmakers handle the inevitable gangster clichés deftly, but are careful at the same time to maintain realism. Still, it wouldn’t be this entertaining without Depp’s chilly performance.
2015-U.S. 122 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Scott Cooper, John Lesher, Patrick McCormick, Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson. Directed by Scott Cooper. Screenplay: Mark Mallouk, Jez Butterworth. Book: Dick Lehr, Gerard O’Neill. Cast: Johnny Depp (James “Whitey” Bulger), Joel Edgerton (John Connolly), Benedict Cumberbatch (William “Billy” Bulger), Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons… Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, Juno Temple.
Trivia: Co-executive produced by Brett Ratner. Guy Pearce was allegedly first cast for a role. The story of Bulger was also told in the documentary Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014).
Last word: “I came across many people that – because I have a lot of non-actors in the film – and a couple of them had worked for Whitey, seeing really all different sides. I wanted to put forth the multifaceted portrait of this man, but again, you’re making a narrative feature. It’s not in service as a documentary. I don’t think people come to movies for facts. I think they come for psychological truth and humanity and emotion.” (Cooper, Coming Soon)