Johnny Depp gives one of the most powerful performances of the year as James “Whitey” Bulger in “Black Mass”. The story begins in 1975 and is set in the heart of the Irish district of South Boston. It tells the story of how he made his way up the ranks from being just a common criminal to one of the most wanted men in South Boston, and eventually America with the help of his older brother Billy, and the FBI.
Joel Edgerton plays longtime childhood friend and FBI Agent John Connolly who began this unholy alliance with Bulger to rid South Boston of the Italian Mafia. Accompanied by Kevin Weeks (Jesse Pelmons) and Steven “the riflemen” Flemmi (Rory Cochrane) the three men took over and formed the “Winter Hill Gang”. Meanwhile, Billy (Bendict Cumberbatch) is the state Senator and eventually becomes involved with his younger brother’s criminal activities. Connolly convinces Charles McGuire (Kevin Bacon) who is the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI office everything is normal, and he eventually goes along with his plan. However, John Morris (David Harbour) Connolly’s co worker becomes increasingly worried that everything is falling apart. All of these men must keep the charade going for as long as they can.
Depp is in COMPLETE control in this film.. one minute he is a caring and generous man and the next he is a complete psychopath. This is displayed several times through the film especially with his son Douglas. The scenes with him are especially touching, but also humorous. Unfortunately, Douglas fell ill with Reye’s Syndrome, a severe reaction to aspirin. For all of his imperfections Jimmy loved his son more than anything in the world. Another shining example is the love he has for his mother.
Bendict Cumberbatch is outstanding as well… while he doesn’t have as much time on screen, the scenes he is in are fantastic. His recent selection of roles has been impeccable and vary the gamut playing everything from a dragon to a legendary science fiction villain. He is an A lister nobody talks about.
The cinematography is in the film was outstanding.. it always seemed to show the best shots of the city at the correct time whether it was the skyline of Boston or under a bridge. I got the impression that city started to become a character in of itself.
If you want a tough, gritty, gangster movie to see then this is for you. The violence is intense but over very quickly, and is bloody.. exactly what a gangster film should be. I would say that “Black Mass” is just as good if not even a little better than “The Departed”, I know that’s difficult to believe but its true. Look for this movie around Oscar time.
“Black Mass” is rated R for sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, alcohol/drug/smoking, and frightening and intense images.