Black Mass (2015) Review
The true story of Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became a FBI informant in order to get away with so many different things, his brother was a state senator as well!
John Connolly an agent in Boston’s FBI unit wanted nothing more than to clean up the streets of South Boston where he grew up. He took it all very personally and began with very good intentions to look after those with a similar background to himself. The problem was though that he just happened to grow up on those streets with Jimmy Bulger and felt he owned it to him out of respect to actually help the man. When he hears that things are closing in on Jimmy he makes a very strange deal with him to become an informant. Although they don’t really call it that but an alliance.
The deal was extremely dirty but they both wanted to take down the Italian Mafia within Boston so for a while it worked out well enough, with Jimmy giving one piece of information which lead to this. The only problem with the supposed deal was that was the only information he ever gave Connolly. Because of his nature and believing that who you grew up with was the most important thing ever that blinded him to some of the things Jimmy was doing. He got himself too close and was taken for a ride, they didn’t really give the FBI anything and they got everything in return.
Before seeing the film I had never even heard of Bulger so the story was totally new to me, sometimes that is probably a good thing as I have no idea which parts are actually real and which parts are just the film making. That isn’t really a big thing though as film is just another way to tell a story. This is not a type of film we haven’t seen before and especially with Boston being the setting, so it is very clear how much the Italian and Irish descendants were pretty much at war with each other.
Johnny Depp was pretty haunting as the psychotic Bulger and it was quite strange to watch him as at times I totally forgot it was actually Depp as the character. That has to mean they did something right? I mean I have seen looked to see the real Bulger and he doesn’t really look anything like him. It was a good performance as he terrified people and showed no remorse in killing someone, who he did not really know and the same to a supposed friend.
The film did not have enough Benedict Cumberbatch for me as his role was smaller than expected as Billy Bulger, but I was impressed with his accent and presence when he was on-screen. It was a stand out performance from Joel Edgerton who held the film together and was the key player really as FBI agent Connolly as he had to keep up the charade and the web he had spun for himself, I thought he was very good as it all started to spiral out of control.
Parts of the film are very violent indeed but obviously the crimes that were committed were that violent so important to show what had happened. Different ways of violence occurred as well, plenty of shootings, strangling and even one moment of torture. Jimmy was not phased by any of this, but it is important to mention that two key events in his life seemed to change him for the worse. He really did appear to dote on his young son and mother. But things happened to them and that massively aided his more sadistic downfall. As early on in the film he did come across as pretty likeable, especially considering people in the neighbourhood appeared to like him.
While parts of the film were pretty solid I didn’t massively enjoy it as it felt a lot longer than 2 hours, as we moved slowly through the years I was beginning to wonder how many years it all spanned over. I’d only recommend this one if this is the usual type of film you like watching.