257) Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014)
Number 2 on America’s Most Wanted list after Osama Bin Laden, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger terrorized the city of Boston for years without ever being charged with so much as a misdemeanor. Bulger was a monster, murdering over a dozen known victims, but did the FBI and local law enforcement give his reign of terror over South Boston a free pass?
7/10 – From the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brothers Keeper, Paradise Lost Trilogy) comes ‘Whitey’, where we go as deep as we can into the trial of James J. Bulger and much like his previous work, attempt to uncover the full story.
You have to applaud Berlinger with this documentary, Whitey made it difficult for anyone to catch him in the act, so creating a documentary around someone who has so carefully covered their tracks is always going to be a challenge. Add to it that you cannot step foot in the court room, nor can you actually meet the man himself, it is no easy task.
While the chilling facts are splashed across our screens in a glossy way, following the narrative and direction of this documentary is as difficult to untangle as the web Whitey created himself. Most documentaries normally have an agenda, a particular angle, but this one just put threw the facts up and left it up to us. Ultimately a court decision was made, so there was closure in that respect, but it wasn’t always clear who Berlinger thought was at fault.
That being said, it is incredibly detailed and the level of research is impressive – It bears repeating that this is a truly shocking story and that unless given a wider platform like this, it could have gone largely unnoticed. The corruption, violence and complicated nature of the story are spliced with witness testimonials and interviews, and perhaps most unnerving of all is that still throughout the duration of the trial repercussions of having anything to do with Bulger or the FBI are taking effect while filming.
Overall, it was a comprehensive view of the case and anyone with a vague interest in crime, or more specifically the mafia and government corruption will find this interesting. Although do not expect anything on the same level as Paradise Lost, it is confused and at times becomes lost in the detail.