As far as Johnny Depp is concerned, I agree that this may be his big comeback role. He’s gotten a lot of bad press in the past few years, accused of doing sub-par films and emulating Keith Richards in every role. Here, he has impeccably captured the character of a troubled, ruthless crime boss.
But I would be remiss to leave out that Joel Edgerton positively shone in this movie as FBI agent and childhood friend of Whitey, John Connolly. Edgerton was so captivating that I looked forward to his every appearance on the screen. The film is mainly about corruption, and Edgerton personifies it. His facial expressions, tone of voice, and outbursts are enough to keep the audience interested despite having so many main characters made to appear unlikeable. Wait around for the end credits, when they show real photos and footage of the Winter Hill gang and Agent Connolly—you’ll see that even Edgerton’s mannerisms and appearance are spot-on.
The film isn’t completely historically accurate (of course), and by necessity leaves out parts of Whitey Bulger’s life that would (a) make him too unlikeable and (b) extend a movie that already lasts two hours, but it’s a valuable and entertaining look at one of the most notorious American criminals of all time.
If you want straight facts, watch a documentary. If you want a crime-drama with a jazzy soundtrack that makes you feel like the mob is the high-life, re-watch Goodfellas. But this film is well worth the time of any movie fan, and might just transform the way we look at gangster movies.