Black Mass is a 2015 crime drama about the South Boston crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger, who is brilliantly portrayed by Johnny Depp. I actually intended to see this movie while it was still in theater but unfortunately was not able to. Now nearly two years later I finally got the chance to sit down and watch the damn thing, and I got to say it didn’t disappoint. It is brilliantly acted but has its fair share of issues. As usual no movie is without its flaws so let’s get into it.
As stated above the film focuses on infamous mobster Whitey Bulger who became a FBI Informant in southern Boston from the late 70’s to the mid 90’s. Saying too much more than that would be spoiling but it’s been two years so chances are if you wanted to see it you’ve seen it already. Just watch the trailer (posted above) it can explain more than I can.
As I said earlier Johnny Depp (Pirates Of The Caribbean, Rango) plays the notorious criminal and gives one of the best performances of his career. He’d honestly be unrecognizable if not for his name in the opening credits. He gives a sense of real menace, I mean honestly he’s terrifying in this. Joel Edgerton (It Comes At Night, Warrior, The Gift) Co-stars as FBI agent and long time friend of Bulger. Edgerton as usual gives a fantastic performance. He gives a charismatic yet low-key performance. Joel Edgerton in my opinion is a highly underrated actor and we need to see him in more. Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock,The Hobbit, The Imitation game, Doctor Strange) portrays Whitey Bulgers senator brother William (more commonly refered to as Billy throughout the movie). Cumberbatch isn’t in much of the movie but I thought having him as William was a great casting choice. But what surprised me the most though was Dakota Johnson (50 Shades Of Grey *gag* and it’s sequel 50 Shades Darker *starts to vomit* expect a post just roasting the shit out of this franchise in the future) who plays Whitey’s girlfriend in the earlier half of the movie. Like Cumberbatch she wasn’t in much but she gives a surprisingly emotional performance. She stole almost every scene she was in. If you’ve seen her other works you wouldn’t know she could actually act, but surprisingly she can and I’d like to see her in a decent role again.
Now for the bad, which there isn’t much of (this time). My only real complaint was that it wasn’t long enough or rather there wasn’t enough of it. According to the director the original cut was close to three hours long and was cut due to pacing issues. Which I admire that they were willing to fix those issues because a lot of studios don’t due to how expensive these scenes can be to shoot so they leave them in to get their moneys worth, which then hurts the movie. Even though I admire that they cut it down, it felt like they cut too much.
Now for the good. I’d write Black Mass off as just another crime drama if it weren’t for one thing, the acting. The acting elevated a standard movie into something a little more special. I also admire the dedicated team behind it. According to IMDB, most of the murder scenes were shot where the murders actually took place, and that takes guts (no murder jokes intended) to do so I applaud them.
Black Mass is an average crime drama elevated by great performances, steady pacing, and a dedicated director.. The movie is gripping form beginning to end and if you haven’t seen it like me it’s well worth a watch.
I rate Black Mass an B- or 8.1