Johnny Depp is almost unrecognisable in his casting in this riveting film based on actual events, about how Irish mobster and fully accredited sociopath James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) created an un-holy alliance with the FBI in Boston. In return for virtual immunity from prosecution, Whitey Bulger will give the FBI valuable “intel” on the Italians in the north in an attempt to eliminate their common enemy.
It is a collaboration that the FBI completely underestimated, that allows Bulger to evade the law, consolidate power and become one of the most ruthless and feared gangsters in the history of the city.
Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton both give richly absorbing performances of preening macho self-regard and self-delusion. Whitey is the kingpin criminal who is known for his loathing of rats and informants – yet he is the biggest informant of all.
This is a secular, pessimistic tale about how gangsters are nurtured like microbes in a petri dish by corruption and is acted and directed with tremendous confidence and verve.