“Black Mass” is the true story about James “Whitey” Bulger’s (Johnny Depp) life as a gangster and an FBI informant in the 1970s and 80s and how he used his position to become one of the most notorious gangsters the United States history.
First things first, “Black Mass” is a great movie. Is it as great as all the hype made it out to be? No, but that’s okay because we got something from this movie we haven’t gotten in a long time, a great Johnny Depp performance.
Completely transformed, it is almost like Depp isn’t on screen but Whitey Bulger himself is. Depp isn’t alone though. A fantastic supporting cast led by Joel Edgerton as FBI agent John Connolly and Benedict Cumberbatch as state senator Billy Bulger provide captivating performances that draw the audience in.
The movie is also able to capture the realistic and gritty feel that it was going for. Violence in this movie is very basic and to the point, showing just how gangsters operated back in the day as opposed to the fictionalized gangster violence we’re used to as moviegoers. This violence can be a bit much at times because of the realistic nature, but for the most part it’s noting too gruesome.
The setting of 70s and 80s Boston is also displayed accurately for the time. Talk about other events around the time and the rundown look of the area that Bulger operated out of are both truthful and complement the movie rather well. Everyone also uses a Boston accent, making the movie feel real because most sound authentic and genuine, but a couple do come closer to the cheesy side.
“Black Mass”, as great as it is, isn’t without its faults. It tends to drag, and not just in a couple of spots but, for most of the movie. This is probably due in part to the movie having to be dialogue heavy in order to cram all of this information into a rather short runtime of 122 minutes. Adding an extra half hour could have allowed the director to play with ideas and perhaps let him add more variety.
The movie also doesn’t get its priorities straight when it comes to the bulk of the story and focuses more on giving us the same pattern of why Whitey Bulger was an evil person and not enough how Whitey Bulger became this notorious gangster and his relationship to his brother.
The movie also ends rather weakly and feels disjointed from the rest of the film because of its faster pace and the fact that it leaves a lot unresolved with a lot of questions.
Mostly great, “Black Mass” delves deep into the real life of James “Whitey” Bulger providing the audience with a history lesson they likely won’t forget. Looking past the slow pace and out of place ending “Black Mass” succeeds in every other aspect. Under great direction and a strong ensemble cast the story of Whitey Bulger is captivating even if predictable.
With a back in form Johnny Depp that alone makes “Black Mass” worth seeing in theaters, if that’s not enough though a great movie also accompanies the performance.
“Black Mass” is directed by Scott Cooper and is now playing everywhere. The film is rated R with a runtime of 122 minutes