Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Depp in Black Mass.

Johnny Depp breaks his shit slump with a riveting performance as James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious Boston crime lord who acted as an informant to the FBI while killing people and destroying lives.

Depp goes under some heavy makeup—including some disgusting teeth—to play the infamous brother of William “Billy” Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) and pal of FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). The movie examines the strange dynamic that occurred between one of the worst criminals in Boston history, his high-ranking brother and his meat-headed FBI friend. All three are very good in a film that, alas, feels like it was supposed to be a lot longer. I suspect there’s a four-hour cut of this movie somewhere in director Scott Cooper’s basement.

Depp is scary-good, yet his work feels strangely abbreviated; he feels like more of a supporting player. Edgerton’s Connolly feels a more well-rounded; this continues a fine year for the actor after The Gift. Peter Sarsgaard, Kevin Bacon and Dakota Johnson are all good in supporting roles.

As mobster movies go, this is good, but it should’ve been great. If anything, it’s good to see Depp truly digging into something rather than acting like a goofball for a paycheck.

Black Mass is now playing at theaters across the valley.