WHITEY: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. JAMES J. BULGER
(director: Joe Berlinger; cinematographers: Robert Richman /Étienne Sauret ; editors: Alex Horwitz/Joshua L. Pearson; music: Wendy Blackstone; Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Caroline Suh /Joe Berlinger; Magnolia Pictures; 2014)
“A hard-hitting and for the most part crisply told crime exposé documentary on the legendary ruthless South Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A hard-hitting and for the most part crisply told crime exposé documentary on the legendary ruthless South Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger. The mobster was born in 1929. Director Joe Berlinger(“Crude”/”Under African Skies“/”Brother’s Keeper“) wastes hardly any time profiling or doing a psychological study on his notorious subject. Instead he spiritedly rails on how the gangster survived because of a corrupt law institutions–they accepted his bribes and enabled him. Whitey, head of the Winter Hill Gang, terrorized the Boston area for as long as 30 years, with such crimes as racketeering, murder and extortion.
The misguided FBI higher-ups shielded Whitey to be their informer, while the vicious hood bought off the Beantown police department for further protection.
The troubling documentary covers in detail Whitey’s 2013 trial (thanks to having access to the records), where he was charged with 32 counts that included racketeering and murder. This comes after he disappeared in 1994 and wasn’t caught until 2011, where he was hiding under an alias with his girlfriend in Santa Monica, California. At the trial, gang members turn on him, as do scores of his victims, and independent investigators pile on evidence against him of how expansive were his foul deeds. It makes us queasy that such blatant corruption could have been undetected for so long and that trusted public institutions enabled him. I can’t help wondering why the justice system isn’t also on trial.
REVIEWED ON 11/25/2014 GRADE: B+