Black Mass review
I have never lived in a metropolis-like environment, so I can’t say I’ve had the experience of living in tight corners and nearby Chinese food places. The idea of living in high rises certainly doesn’t frighten me or even annoy me, but it’s certainly nice to look at a forest rather then brick and steel. The only time in my life that comes close in my one year of schooling in Tucson, but it’s more of an extra large town then a metropolis (that’s what Phoenix is for). Cityscapes come along with the stereotypes. The bums, the workaholics, the rich yuppies, the underprivileged artists, and of course, the mafia.
One continues plot in many city police stories is going after the mafia. It’s rarely set against the Italian mafia or Irish mafia, but just THE mafia. The best movies like The Godfather, Goodfellas and The Departed have drawn exception to these standard in order to project realism. What’s frightening is that the more real these gangster movies become, the more your optimism for the city deflates to be replaced by the image of organized crime running the show, What’s worse are the stories that show the armed forces involved. Black Mass tells the real story of the Irish mafia in Boston.
The movie is told from the various flashbacks of criminals that have worked for main character, James “Whitey” Bulger.
Starting in 1975, Whitey (played by Johnny Depp) is a small town crook in South Boston who has a small crew and works his numbers, but still isn’t a kingpin yet. On the other side of the law is John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton), an FBI agent who was friends with Whitey as a kid growing up in Boston. Connolly gets the idea of having Whitey coming on board as an informant for the FBI in order to eradicate the Italian mafia.
Whitey’s brother William Bulger (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) isn’t enthusiastic about the idea and neither is Whitey. The later gets on board to protect his family, though dismisses the idea that he’s “ratting”. Though given rules against killing and committing crimes, Whitey does so any way, but provide enough information just so that he still technically helping the FBI. As Whitey become further dethatched from his humanity and Connolly brushes off all the violence as “getting closer to the enemy”, the FBI starts to debate what’s ethical to catch brooks with more crooks.
The story of James “Whitey” Bulger is an interesting one; so interesting that many movies, including The Departed were inspired by this criminal. Does that mean that there’s room for the real life story? Yes, there is. Black Mass is an enjoyable crime thriller that’s more about the crimes then so of the character. Johnny Depp still gives it all to play a scary man that would have had me running out of the building. Even though were given a more over-the-top design then an over-the-top personality, he’s still fascinating enough of a character to see him as he rises in the crime world.
Now unlike something like Scarface where our criminal is wealthy, Black Mass is more of the workingman’s godfather. It’s not a bad thing, but since we’ve received movies like this before, Black Mass feels like it could get lost in an ocean of more iconic criminal stories. I can’t feel like that this kind of story has been given to audiences hundreds of times before It’s not bad, but it’s a movie that came a little late or at least put a different spin to make it stand out more. I’m not sure if the answer were to have gone darker, but it might have helped.
I’ll give this four welcome to Boston signs out of five. Black Mass isn’t good because it’s a fantastic gangster story; it works because it’s adequate. I think I respect the history more then I do for the final product. If you like gangster or crime thrillers, then you’ll probably like this.