Writer: Mark Mallouk, Jez Butterworth (Screenplay) Dick Lehr, Gerard O’Neill (Book)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane
Plot: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
There may be spoilers the rest of the review
Story: Black Mass starts as Kevin Weeks (Plemons) wants to give up his life of crime recounting his story of how he found himself working for Jimmy Whitey Bulger (Depp). Jimmy is the Irish crime boss expanding around South Boston whose brother is now a Senator Billy (Cumberbatch) who gets the information that FBI agent and old friend John Connolly (Edgerton) has been given the greenlight to bring down the Mafia who also own the street in South Boston.
We see how Jimmy makes a deal with Connolly to create an alliance with the FBI to take down the other gangs in South Boston with only his most loyal worker Stephen Flemmi (Cochrane) knowing the truth. With the freedom to build his empire Jimmy takes advantage of the FBI letting him run amuck through South Boston the rise of Whitey Bulger becomes clear.
Thoughts on Black Mass
Characters/Performance – Jimmy, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger whichever name you want to call him by is the ruthless gangster that lived and reigned in South Boston through the 70’s and 80’s, he is loyal to anyone he trusts but once you betray his trust he will kill you. He becomes an informant for the FBI and uses this to his advantage. John Connolly is the FBI agent that uses his connections in Boston to build his own reputation by making the deal with Jimmy to help him bring down the other gangs in Boston. Billy Bulger is the brother of Jimmy and a senator that keeps his brother’s connection away from his professional life. The rest of the characters are all the different parts of the story be it within the FBI or within Jimmy’s gang.
Performance wise, Johnny Depp gives one of his best performances in year but still doesn’t reach the levels we know he can do, Joel Edgerton continues to build his career to be creditable leading man with Cumberbatch making his presence know when needed, the rest of the performances are all good without being able to find a weak point in any of them.
Story – The story of a notorious gangster is something we have seen before just replace the gangsters name and we know how this will unfold. I personally didn’t know who Whitey Bulger was going into this film so this was a learning process but as I am not a fan of gangster films I just didn’t get pulled into the story because we just don’t get enough of the story of why Jimmy is motivated to become the gangster in the first place and we are dealing with flashbacks from all the major characters in jail.
Biography/Crime – Learning part of the life of Whitey Bulger is interesting enough to learn but we don’t understand how far up the reign of terror got, the crime side does all look good though.
Final Thoughts – This is a good look into the process but sadly doesn’t give us enough about what happened as Whitey grew in reputation.
Overall: Has plenty going on but misses too many important moments.