Black Mass (2015)

Keep your enemies close.

The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

Bulger's playing us, making a fool of the Bureau. We're in too deep, and he knows it! God help us all.
Black Mass is the story of Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), who was the brother of a state senator and the infamous violent leader of South Boston's Winter Hill Gang. It charts his criminal activities and his subsequent dealings with the FBI.
Directed by Scott Cooper, Black Mass is one of those instances where a great lead performance deserves a better over all film. Depp literally inhabits the role of Bulger in a fully formed perf that reminds us of what a fine actor he can be. Unfortunately the edgy material to hand never really ignites in filmic form. Maybe we were spoilt by the offerings of Coppola and Scorsese previously? For this comes off as a cheap imitation of far greater films, with the crafters of the pic giving us something of a caricature piece.
Although compelling as a lead character study, much of the narrative is rendered as playing it safe, putting emotive heart where it doesn't belong. Most of the support characters, and key to the story, are under developed, while the pace is decidedly attention sapping and not adroitly understated. Nevertheless, we do get good acting perfs to support Depp, notably Joel Edgerton as corrupt FBI agent John Connolly, while Masanobu Takayanagi's (Hostiles) cinematography is delicate of moody hues.
There's a fascinating story trying to get out of this, but the 15 year wait to get it to screen hasn't been worth it. There's some truly electric scenes, but they are few and far between, which gives us ultimately just a compact and safe piece of gangster film making. 5/10

Vendian Entertainment, Infinitum Nihil, Head Gear Films, Cross Creek Pictures, Free State Pictures, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Le Grisbi Productions by Scott Cooper, Mark Mallouk, Jez Butterworth, Dick Lehr, Gerard O'Neill.
Stars: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton.

Genres: Biography, Crime, Drama

Keywords: corruption prostitute boston, massachusetts fbi senator gangster irish mob based on a true story murder organized crime pay phone extortion beaten to death brutality violence illness informant 1980s

09/17/2015

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