Movie Review: Black Mass
Updated: May 27, 2019
Last year, I watched a documentary on Netflix: Whitey; United States of America v. James J. Bulger which was pretty solid. Then to my surprise a movie called Black Mass was in development with Johnny Depp playing Whitey Bulger. One of the most notorious, and ruthless gangsters in Boston history. Being as which I am obsessed with Mob movies that place in Boston(The Departed), I figured I would give it a shot.
As per Rotten Tomatoes: In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly persuades Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history.
Rotten Tomatoes: 6.7/10 IMDB rating: 7.1/10 Metracritic: 43/100
Critics Consensus: Black Mass spins a gripping yarn out of its fact-based story -- and leaves audiences with one of Johnny Depp's most compelling performances in years.
Johnny Depp has pushed out a string of poor movies for awhile now, so I was hoping that his portrayal of Whitey Bulger would get him back on track. Depp is accompanied by a huge cast of well known actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch(Sherlock), Joel Edgerton(Warrior), Jesse Plemons(aka Meth Damon from Breaking Bad), and Dakota Johnson(21 Jumpstreet).
The film goes deep into the life and crime of Whitey Bulger. It also dives into the F.B.I agent John Connolly’s involvement with the notorious irish mobster and how far he was willing to go to keep a “friendship” safe. The film touched on the growing crime element in Boston during that time period and how Whitey became the ruthless Mobster that was feared in the 1970’s.
Johnny Depp really needed to step back into a different role to regain his momentum that he appeared to have lost with his previous films. Sure, he will always be known as Captain Jack Sparrow, or Edward Scissorhands, but after films such as the Lone Ranger, Mortdecai, and Transcendence he was losing his footing as a top actor IMO. I wasn’t even a fan of his work in Willy Wonka, Dark Shadows, Tusk or even Alice in Wonderland. It felt like he was trying to take on new complex roles but they all seem to flop for me. I know I may get aggro for making a negative comment about Alice in Wonderland, but really it wasn't that special. I am a huge fan of Johnny, dont hear me wrong. He work in the 90’s was completely untouchable with films of From Hell, Sleepy Hollow, Fear and Loathing, Blow and etc. but everything in the last decade for me see to have fallen flat.
However, Black Mass is an accolade he can already add to his ever impressive resume. The film was beautifully written, shot and directed in such a way that it was impossible to look away from the screen. If you enjoy mob films like Goodfellas and the Departed, Black Mass is a perfect fit. Welcome back Johnny!