Movie Review: Black Mass


I read a bit about the James "Whitey" Bulger story before I saw this film in the theater, and it's definitely an interesting one. I'm from Massachusetts originally, so I had definitely heard of him, but he was apparently quite the dangerous and elusive criminal - he wasn't caught until four years ago (2011), in California. The entire cast is great, but it's Johnny Depp, who plays Bulger, who really makes this film worth watching.

"Whitey" Bulger (Depp) starts out as a small-time criminal in South Boston ("Southie"). His brother, Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), actually ends up becoming a Senator, who turns his head at Whitey's crimes. They grow up with John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who is now an FBI agent, and the FBI starts using Bulger as an informant; however, when a new FBI agent starts working there (Corey Stoll), he demands to know why Bulger hasn't been brought to justice yet, which starts an investigation into Connolly and his alliances.

I last saw Johnny Depp in Mortdecai, which was an awful movie, so I'm glad he's found himself a better vehicle this time; he definitely shines in this film, and was almost unrecognizable, with a high forehead and thinning hair. Edgerton is also different-looking - it looks like they may have given him cheek implants to look older, as he and Bulger were supposed to be contemporaries. Rounding out the cast is Kevin Bacon, as another FBI agent; Dakota Johnson, in a small role as the mother of Bulger's child; Peter Sarsgaard, as one of Bulger's henchmen; Adam Scott, as another FBI agent; and Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) as a younger guy who starts working for Bulger.

Yes, see this movie. I'll warn you that it earns its R-rating, and is also a little slow; I'm pretty tired this week so I found myself nodding off during the film, only to be woken up by gunshot sounds (which seemed to be every five minutes or so). I hope Depp gets some sort of nomination for his role in this, and Edgerton and Cumberbatch, as the main two supporting characters, should as well; though I'll say it was very strange to hear Cumberbatch with a Boston accent, since he's English. The real story behind Whitey Bulger is just as fascinating, too, and you can read about it over at his Wikipedia page.

Black Mass is in theaters today, September 18th, and is rated R with a runtime of 122 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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