Warner Brothers Entertainment
By: Alex Young
Black Mass is Hollywood’s take of the unbelievable but true story of Boston crime kingpin James “Whitey” Bulger and his rise to notoriety via deception, betrayal, and murder. The film is darker than other Boston crime stories, such as The Departed, but only because the truth is stranger than fiction. And, in this case, it’s devastating in its brutal delivery and astonishing in its attention to human behavior.
Though character actor Johnny Depp never went away, some critics are citing this particular role as the biggest comeback of his career, beckoning him the dark side as in some of his prior like Blow and Donnie Brasco. Prepare to plunge into the belly of an evil beast when you see the cold heart of James Bulger, and the film never lets the audience forget it’s in the grip of a true story.
James “Whitey” Bulger is one of the most wickedly renowned figures in the history of American organized crime, wherein he eluded prosecution for decades due to his allegiance with the FBI. Bulger did this by teaming up with childhood friend John Connolly, who became a top tier FBI agent within the Massachusetts office. Connolly was assigned to take down the heads of the Italian Mob in North Boston and talked Bulger into providing info about his rivals in the world of organized crime. In return Bulger received information from Connolly about any law enforcement targeting him. The two made a perfect team, until Bulger gained more power than any other organized crime figure in Boston by dealing drugs and killing anyone and everyone who got in his path. The story serves as a testament to how money and power can change everything for one person, and how they can the world around them.
Director Scott Cooper recently debuted Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges, about a broken country singer, as well as the chilling crime thriller Out of the Furnace starring Christian Bale. Cooper masterfully crafts this ice-cold true crime story into an expertly woven narrative with a stacked ensemble cast featuring Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Adam Scott, Kevin Bacon and Corey Stoll.
Nevertheless, Depp steals the show with a riveting and colossal performance, and Cooper solidifies himself as one of the essential emerging voices in American cinema.
Prepare yourself for a powerhouse because Black Mass serves up one of the most relentlessly realistic crime stories that Hollywood has offered up in a long, long time.