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Johnny Depp un­buck­les the swash and re­turns to se­ri­ous act­ing in this of­ten pow­er­ful but ul­ti­mately un­ful­filled real-life crime drama that as­pires to

op­er­atic pro­por­tions but set­tles for heavy me­tal. The story of James “Whitey” Bul­ger (Depp), the so­cio­pathic crime boss who ruled South Bos­ton with a mur­der­ous hand un­til he went on the lam in the mid-’90s, hits im­pres­sive high notes, but leaves un­der­done some cru­cial el­e­ments, as it plows through a gallery of bru­tal mur­ders and other crimes. Bul­ger’s child­hood pal John Con­nolly (an ex­cel­lent Joel Edger­ton), up from the same Southie neigh­bor­hood as Whitey, works another side of the street as an FBI agent who starts with good in­ten­tions but gets sucked into a bot­tom­less moral com­pro­mise. The movie looks great, and is beau­ti­fully acted, shot, and edited. What it lacks is that sense of di­men­sion to make us re­ally care. Rated R. 122 min­utes. Re­gal Sta­dium 14; Vi­o­let Crown; DreamCatcher. (Jonathan Richards)

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