BLACK MASS – review

September  18, 2015


Black Mass

I remember the first time I saw the theatrical preview for this movie.  It was earlier this year and I was at the theatre with my wife.  I saw one of my favorite genera’s of movies, about a crime lord that I was able to remember from the new casts growing up in the 1990’s.  It looked incredible.  At the end of the trailer, she turned to me and said, “Can you believe that was Johnny Depp.”  I could not believe it; I could not tell it was him.  And let’s be straight, I have seen Johnny Depp in almost every movie or TV show he has ever been in.  I went home and pulled the trailer up on You Tube and could not believe my eyes.  He was the spitting image of Whitey Bulger and I could not even see his facial features through the makeup.  I couldn’t wait to see the film.  black mass 3

Black Mass is a story told by members of Whitey Bulger’s crime family “The Winter Hill Gang”.  This was an Irish crime family located in Boston’s south side in the 70’s.  It is a story of how local boys grew up on each side of the law and come back to their Boston roots.  John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton) is an FBI man.  He is given the task of bringing down the Italian Mafia of north Boston.  In order to do this, he reaches out to Whitey, who also wanted the Italians taken down to expand his power.  Whitey and John and Whitey’s brother, Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) were kids together on the hard streets of Boston.  Billy became a president of the Massachusetts senate.  We are witness to Whitey’s story of the death of his son and then his mother and how these events solidified his path in life.  We also see John being torn apart by trying to be the ideal FBI agent and bring down the Mafia, but in the end he started to enjoy the power of being friends with Whitey and started to protect and look away as Whitey’s power, crimes and corruption exploded.  In the end Whitey goes into hiding in 1994 and is not found until 2011 and John goes to jail for racketeering and second degree murder and will spend his life in prison. black mass 4

The acting in this movie was wonderful.   I would not be surprised if Johnny Depp was nominated for an Oscar in this movie as well as some of the other cast members.  There is a darkness to Whitey that this movie brought out in several scenes and Depp is believable.  I was really hoping for a movie of the caliber of “The God Father” or at least “Casino”.  Instead I saw another “Donnie Brasco”.  The movie is very disjointed and not cohesive.  We skip from side story to side story and it disrupts to flow severely at times.  Then, to top it off, one of the segments of Whitey’s life that I was most excited about, his “days in hiding” was told by a blurb on the screen and a 2 minute scene of Whitey being arrested in a parking garage.  black mass

So here is my take.  If you are a mega fan of Johnny Depp or Whitey Bulger or a Mafia like story, then see it on the big screen.  Everyone else should wait to see it on Netflix.   


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