Black Mass Movie Review
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Notorious gangster movies seem to be a way of life in the US. There have been too many to count and yet they keep coming one after the other. One more such movie has made its way to us and looks to be well worth the wait based on the cast alone. The story of James “Whitey” Bulger has been stylized in many different forms over the years from him being the inspiration for the character of Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) in The Departed (2006) to being the character template for Brotherhood which aired on Showtime from 2006 – 2008 to even a straightforward documentary film simply called Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger in 2014. This is just some of what this particular individual and his heinous actions spawned. Now comes the movie that everyone has been buzzing about. Black Mass is here and it must be watched.
Black Mass focuses on the life of James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) during the 1970s and beyond. At this point of his life, James is living in Boston and goes about his days under the radar of most of the law enforcement. That’s not to say he’s living life right, he’s just living it smarter than others. He has a wife (Erica McDermott) and a young son. He still does right by his mom and spends time with his brother, Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), who just so happens to be a keen political figure in the State of Massachusetts. Then there’s the other side of James, who is a hands on, brutal gangster with delusions of grandeur. Whitey seizes certain moments of opportunity and begins to expand his reach of crime. Using the unbreakable bond of childhood friendship between he and John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who now works for the FBI, Whitey is able to exploit his position to become the notorious gangster that many knew him to be.
Just like with everyone before him, Whitey succumbs to the intoxication of power and slowly begins to turn those closest to him against him. This movie isn’t solely about Whitey as his actions have massive ripple effects on those around him, especially those on the other side of the law. There were many lives affected by the decisions and actions of one James “Whitey” Bulger. Black Mass weaves in and out giving viewers a look behind the curtains and also maybe some insight as to why he became what he did.
Black Mass exhibits the in your face type of brutality that made gangster movies like The Godfather and Scarface so popular as well as essentially timeless. Scott Cooper is blessed with an outstanding all star class of actors such as Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, Dakota Johnson, Adam Scott, Peter Sarsgaard, Julianne Nicholson and Juno Temple.The story is already well established so without making any boneheaded decisions this one is sure to be a hit. Thankfully it didn’t get screwed by a director with his own agenda looking to make this story more than what it is, your simple “one man on a path to make a legacy for himself” type of movie.
It’s hard to tell because I may just be caught up in the moment but Black Mass might have the stuff that future classics are made of. The story, the writing, the acting and the cinematography are all top notch and should have some real staying power in the box office through the first several weeks of fall. I wouldn’t be surprised if it is also mentioned in the Oscar discussions for various categories when that time arrives. There are many lasting effects this film will leave on its audiences driving them to brush up on their history after getting home to maybe fill in some of the blanks. This is a Johnny Depp feature that should appeal to the masses, no pun intended. Check it out today.