I’m a sucker for films that revolve around the mob. Whether it’s based on a true story or completely fictional, I love stories that are set in the criminal underworld. I just find it fascinating. So I was really looking forward to seeing director Scott Cooper’s Black Mass, which is based on the true-life story of Whitey Bulger.
Bulger was the brother of a state senator and an FBI informant that became one of the most infamous, violent criminals in the history of South Boston. He became an informant to help take down a rival mafia family. The government ended up letting this guy get away with a lot of crazy shit for a very long time, and the FBI team involved with tried to cover up a lot of the stuff he did.
They story was a very dark and violent romp through the mob world, as Whitey was literally going around killing one person after another. That’s the basic formula this movie followed. Bulger was portrayed as a ruthless killer, and he ended the lives of several people, especially when he thought they were ratting on him. Bulger was a mob boss who obviously did a lot of his own dirty work. He wasn’t afraid to get blood on his hands. This movie makes sure that you know that, and takes us on a journey through a heart of darkness.
Bulger was an intriguing and terrifying guy, creepily portrayed by Johnny Depp. Depp was freakin’ awesome in this movie. This is one of the best performances that he’s given in a long time. It’s the first time that I’ve seen him do something since Sweeney Todd that I actually enjoyed watching him in. The guy is a very versatile actor that can take on all kinds of crazy roles, but this is one in where you can really see the insanity behind his eyes. The hair and the make-up he was sporting in the film seemed a bit off, but other than that, his performance was spectacular. I wouldn’t be surprised if he got nominated for an Oscar.
The movie also had an incredible ensemble cast that included Joel Edgerton as John Connelly, Kevin Bacon as Charles McGuire, Peter Sarsgaard as Brian Halloran, Jesse Plemons as Kevin Weeks, Adam Scott as Robert Fitzpatrick, Corey Stoll as Red Wyshak, Rory Cochrane as Steve Flemmi, and Benedict Cumberbatch as Billy Bulger. Every one of these guys gave top-notch performances.
Black Mass is a captivating film that completely fulfilled my curiosity about the insane life that Bulger lived. I know a lot of it was Hollywood dramatization, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the film. The one thing that this movie lacks is any kind of feel-good positivity. Almost every character in this movie is a complete dirtbag. The movie isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy these kinds of films, or you are a fan of any of these actors, it might be worth checking it out.