Black Mass: A Lesson in Crime

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I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan and a massive gangster flick fanatic. So Black Mass appealed to me.

Warning! Due to the nature of the film, this review contains material younger audiences may find distressing

So, naturally, when I heard Johnny Depp would be adding another feather to his criminal cap by playing the role of Whitey Bulger (Boston’s most notorious gangster and one of the most ruthless killers in modern history) I got more than a little excited.

I eagerly awaited the release of Black Mass for months, watched the official trailers on repeat, and finally got to see the movie just this week.

Needless to say, I wasn’t disappointed!

Depp delivered a masterful performance which brought the terrifying, psychopathic and ice-cold personality of Bulger alive in a way I don’t believe any other actor could have beaten. It’s hard to top the performances he delivered in Donnie Brasco or Blow, but Depp might just have done it in his portrayal of the most notorious gangaster in modern history.

I liked pretty much everything about this movie. The gritty, mean streets of South Boston were captured by the fantastic film crew. The wardrobe was purely street gangster, but with none of the class or flair of the Godfather and other mafia movies. Instead it embodied the rough and ready mean-cut street life with black leather jackets, boots and blue jeans.

The crimes Bulger committed were utterly despicable, and much of this was demonstrated on screen.

Listening to the gargles and moans of a prostitute being choked to death by Bulger personally, or the haunting howls of a man who Bulger and his crew hanged and buried in a basement are a harrowing testament to the reality of this vicious man’s crimes.

Even Depp's stare is that of a dangerous animal. Image from ew.com
Even Depp’s stare is that of a dangerous animal.
Image from ew.com

Too many gangster flicks glorify “the life” and gloss over the gritty facts with suave suits, Cuban cigars, glamorous rags-to-riches tales and pearly white smiles from Hollywood superstars. Too many also overlook the corruption and alliances between law enforcement, the political elite, and criminal elements. This move overlooks none of those things.

Black Mass is real, it is raw, it is nasty and it is sickening.

It brings out the vile, repulsive spirit of Whitey Bulger and his band of thieves and thugs. It shows how a man seemingly without a soul rose to the top through nothing short of butchery and brutality, muscling his way into every cash cow in Boston through cooperation with FBI insiders in exchange for information on his rivals.

Black Mass is an instant classic. The only thing which could have been better would have been to show more of the life Bulger led after he left Boston; travelling the world and hiding out from the federal government for decades. Then again, maybe they didn’t do that for a reason. Maybe Black Mass will see a part two on the silver screen?

I sure as heck hope so! Getting Bulger to divulge the details of his exploits post-Boston, however, might be a task beyond even the FBI’s best investigators.

Then again, would you want to be the one to interrogate him? Image from theedgesusu.co.uk
Then again, would you want to be the one to interrogate him?
Image from theedgesusu.co.uk

I wholeheartedly recommend Black Mass to anyone who is a fan of true-crime or gangster flicks.

What do you think? Have you seen the movie? Did Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch and Cross Creek pictures do justice to Whitey Bulger’s story?

We’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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