Movie Review – Black Mass (2015)

Director: Scott Cooper

Stars: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard

The true story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Depp), notorious Boston gangster who enjoyed an alliance with FBI agent and friend John Connolly (Edgerton).

Black Mass is a fairly decent gangster film, but it’s standard and follows the same beats as most other gangster films. The most interesting aspects are that Bulger has a close friendship with Connolly and is brothers with a Senator, although I have to say that I was expecting Cumberbatch to have a larger role. Depp gives a good performance and is terrifying in places, while Edgerton depicts a somewhat tragic figure, although he does come across as being, quite frankly, an idiot.

Connelly spoke of loyalty and was evidently devoted to Bulger because of what had happened in his youth, but it was a very one-sided relationship. I feel that perhaps a flashback to their youth would have given more substance to their relationship and more reasons why Connelly had such unwavering loyalty to Bulger.

The structure of the film had potential to be interesting as it showed all of Bulger’s crew revealing secrets about him, so the film should have been really tense as it showed how Bulger could lose the loyalty of these trusted men, but there were so many time jumps it felt like a lot happened off-screen, and much had to be intimated. Much of what Bulger did was only hinted at as well, and it just feels like the balance of the film is off. It spans a long time but there’s a lack of focus, and it means that it doesn’t get to explore anything in any great depth. For what it wanted to cover I feel that a tv series would have been better.

All in all it was an okay movie with good acting. I feel that it wanted to do too much and should have had more of a focus.


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