Black Mass (Scott Cooper) 2015 **** 12/19/2016

Amidst the doughy, pockmarked Boston-Irish faces, Johnny Depp’s smooth cheekbones pole out from under a sheen of perfect skin, accentuated by a dramatically receded gelled back hairline.  The effect is a grotesquely beautiful Whitey Bulger.  Bulger is a Southie hood who graduates from a nine-year turn in Alcatraz to become the undisputed Crime King of Boston.  He’s able to do it because of the careerist aspirations of a fellow street kid John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) who cultivates him as an informant to take down the Italian North Side mob.  “It’s an Alliance,” says Whitey, one that even only peripherally involves Whitey’s younger brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), a State Senator and a powerful figure.  Jesse Plemons gives a great performance as granite-faced Kevin Weeks, the young Irish foot-soldier, and Corey Stoll provides an intense brow for the conflicted FBI agent who rats Connolly out to the Globe.  The best assessment of Whitey comes from a former ally under FBI interrogation: “Strictly criminal.”

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