Johnny Depp will star as Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger in the upcoming movie “Black Mass” this month. I am quite anxious to see it. So with that in mind I went back and watched Johnny Depp’s other famous gangster movie in which he played real life undercover agent “Donnie Brasco” who infiltrated a crew in one of the five families during the 1970s.
This is one of my favorite “gangster” movies, for one because it seems to be a little more self aware (without going over the top) than your average mob movie. This is the movie that made the word “fugazi” a thing, and there’s still probably a few thousand or so people that carry their money in rolls instead of billfolds just because Al Pacino freakin’ told you so.
Pacino is at his most sympathetic here as an aging Mafioso whose career as plateaued. He watches in silent misery as younger guys who haven’t paid the dues he has, such as Sonny, played menacingly by Michael Madsen, rise up the ranks. He sees his one hope in young Donnie, who he sponsors and brings into the fold and mentors in the ways of all things “wise guy.”
Like I said this is an entertaining movie, but also a very well made one. Depp does a solid job as Brascoe playing him alternatively as a stressed out husband/cop losing his shit over the thought of being found out, and a wet behind the ears sponge soaking up the sage advice of Pacino’s character.
I would go as far to say that as far as the non Scorsese made mob movies of the 90s, this just may be the best one of the bunch. Although Miller’s Crossing is pretty damn epic as well.
Donnie Brasco gets a four out of five: GREAT.