Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger

Critics Consensus

An admirable yet incomplete effort to cover a sprawling subject, Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger will leave viewers wanting more -- in good ways as well as bad.



Total Count: 50


Audience Score

User Ratings: 961
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Movie Info

From Academy Award-nominated director Joe Berlinger, WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger is a sweeping and revelatory documentary film that follows the trial of the infamous gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, using the courtroom action as a springboard to examine accusations of multi-faceted corruption within our nation's law enforcement and legal systems. (C) Magnolia


Critic Reviews for Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (20) | Fresh (40) | Rotten (10)

  • Dense thickets of information, told via rostrum-shot photos and documents plus angry mob's worth of witnesses, become a grind after a while, as does the trite guitar-led mystery music.

    Sep 23, 2015 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • With minimal conspiratorial bluster, Berlinger unmasks the compliant faces of evil.

    Dec 3, 2014 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • Within the confines of an under-two-hours running time ... Berlinger does an impressive job of keeping the film coherent and often fascinating.

    Jul 17, 2014 | Rating: 3/4
  • In this movie, corruption is rife on both sides of the blue line.

    Jul 11, 2014 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • With a large cast of wise guys, reporters, ex-cops, victims and lawyers, lawyers, lawyers, it's like five seasons of The Wire distilled into one epic episode.

    Jul 11, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Joe Berlinger's densely detailed new documentary about the legendary Boston mobster is disturbing on so many levels it's hard not to wonder why Bulger was the only one on trial.

    Jul 10, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger

  • Aug 20, 2016
    Excellent documentary using interviews and actual footage. If you like true crime or are even remotely interested in Whitey Bulger, check this out.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Nov 28, 2014
    Whitey: United States of America V. James J. Bulger serves as both a fascinating crime story and a powerful indictment against the criminal justice system. It's a documentary that gives a detailed account of the Bulger trial, the sensationalism of the man, and the unnerving relationship he had with senior federal and local officials. Director Joe Berlinger weaves an intricate tale in Whitey, starting out examining the unimaginable destruction left in the wake of Whitey's actions, namely the countless victims still waiting for closure. To his credit, Berlinger doesn't stop there. Instead, he examines the central question at issue in the trial, and really the primary point of contention, was he an FBI informant or not? Whitey's defense team presents compelling evidence that it wasn't Whitey that was the informant, but rather key FBI officials, who fed Whitey information and tip offs in exchange for cash. Unbeknownst to Whitey, they also used his name to sign off on wiretaps and search warrants, building a case against the local Italian mob, under the guise of his supposed corroboration. Berlinger does an excellent job weaving the tale together with interviews of lawyers, investigators, victims, and courtroom audio. We are exposed to the different perspectives, while never sacrificing the heat of the story, those whose lives are inextricably linked in the web of corruption. The film certainly leans a certain direction, yet doesn't come across as manipulative, but rather objective and penetrating. In the end, it's an engrossing story that will astound you with its implications. 4/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 28, 2014
    This American biographical documentary produced and directed by Joe Berlinger was completely opposite what would I expect from an Academy Award-nominated director . Produced by CNN Films and Radical Media the film had its world premiere at 2014 Sundance Film Festival . It was an attempt to narrate the trials of gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger, using the legal proceedings as a springboard to explore allegations of corruption within the highest levels of law enforcement. Nothing new. I wish it showed us something we already did not know! Unresolved case, even after the trial will keep being just that... this documentary did not shed any lights on anything particular. Yes, it was nice watching, very smooth directing, but lots of confusion about what is this movie trying to achieve! And over two hours of confusion is never good. If you want to know more about the Boston's most famous 'boss', check it out...
    Panta O Super Reviewer

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