James ‘Whitey’ Bulger was once one of the most wanted men on the FBI’s list, Black Mass, directed by Scott Cooper tells only a small part of this man’s life and his ‘Special’ relationship with the FBI and how it all started to go wrong for this once notorious Irish gangster.
Johnny Depp takes on an amazing transformation in Black Mass as South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger; some even went as far to say this was his big comeback role, slightly confused, did he ever go away? This story doesn’t start at the beginning of Bulger’s criminal career, when FBI agent John Connolly played by an amazing performance by Joel Edgerton, returns to his hometown of Boston. He contacts Massachusetts state senator Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch), a childhood friend and who just happens to be the Brother of Whitey.
Connolly, as a child, idolized Whitey. Now he is in a position of some power he wants to not only offer his insider help to aid Whitey in his rise to power at the top of the chain in the Winter Hill Gang, but also advance his own career in taking out the Italian Mafia and getting that invaluable information from Whitey in exchange for protection from prosecution for his criminal dealings.
For years, we have been missing the good classic, based on true life gangster stories that we had in the forms of Goodfellas, and Black Mass goes a long way to rectifying that thirst. Its only downfall is the lack of back story, the lack of how Whitey got to where he is when we enter the film. We don’t see the time he spent in Alcatraz which could have gone a long way to explaining the reason he had the brutal mentality he had. Also, Whitey’s son passed at a very young age, whilst the story touches on that time in Bulger’s life it’s simply glossed over and concentrates purely on his criminal activities and the corruption within the FBI. Whilst it’s still quite a beefy story, its lack of background leaves you wanting more.
Over the years, Whitey feeds Connolly vital information and vice versa bringing Connolly into the fold of the Winter Hill Gang, who, in one scene openly parties with the gang after a successful criminal outing. Eventually, things start to change within the FBI with their chief persecutor moving onto private practice paving the way for a new guy who is hell bent on taking Whitey down no matter what the cost.
The performance of the cast Depp, Edgerton and Cumberbatch is breathtakingly powerful. They reel you in and make you believe they are their characters. Full of charm and macho charisma, simply pouring out of their pores is their own self-confidence and belief they are untouchable.
Black Mass is out to own on DVD and Blu-ray March 21.