“Black Mass” is the true story about the greatest scandal in the history of the FBI, as James “Whitey” Bulger, starring Academy Award nominee Johnny Depp, becames an informant through an unholy alliance with FBI Agent John Connolly played by Joel Edgerton, to eliminate competition from the mafia. Whitey Bulger spent years on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, but, as the film reveals, the ironic truth is that he would never have risen to power in South Boston without the assistance of the FBI.
The film also features memorable performances by an extraordinary ensemble cast including Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll.
The music set the mood. “Black Mass” opened with dark brooding music. You knew immediately that nothing good was going to happen in this film and it didn’t.
The make-up was astounding. I did not actually recognize Johnny Depp as Johnny Depp. He was made up to look exactly like Whitey Bulger. I kept looking at him but there was nothing of Johnny Depp in this character.
The cinematography was well done in dark tones. They did not use red or yellow tones to make anything bright or cheery. Even the Boston Bay looked dark and ominus.
The screenplay for “Black Mass” was written by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth based on the book of the same name by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. The movie was directed by Scott Cooper who also directed “Crazy Heart” and “Out of the Furnace.”
“Black Mass” is not for the faint of heart. It is chock full of violence and the “f” bomb. Evil is the only word one can use when describing “Whitey Bulger.” Although I found the film interesting, it drug in the middle for me. I think I just got tired of all the killing and blood. I did not leave the theatre feeling warm and fuzzy.
When I polled the audience as we were leaving Wehrenbergs Des Peres Cine 14, I was surprised that most people said they liked it because it was a true story and was very compelling. Most registered surprise that anyone could be so evil and not get caught by the police.
This is definitely not a show for the young. It glamorizes violence and it leaves nothing to the imagination.
The film is well done with an excellent cast but if you like to feel good and be entertained when you leave a movie. This is not the movie for you.
“Black Mass” opens Friday at AMC Showplace Edwardsville 12.
The Telegraph’s contributing movie critic Mary Cox lives in Wood River and is a member of the St. Louis Film Critics Association, who also occasionally writes about film-related topics, studied film at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked in L.A. with various directors and industry professionals. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.