Review: Black Mass

It's not what you do, it's where you do it.

It almost feels redundant because Bulger is so well known, but here's the story - James "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) ran crime in south Boston in the 70's. He was feared and he was careful. He rose to essentially king pin status because of a deal he made with his childhood friend, John Conolly (Joel Egerton) who was in the FBI. In exchange for an "agreement" (Whitey insisted that he wasn't an informant, nor a rat) he fed the FBI intel to take down the Italian mafia, all while they turned a blind eye to him. Of course, Whitey never stayed out of trouble, and soon all the drugs dealings, murders, eventually come down on him.

Even if you know a lot about Bulger and his story, this film still demands to be seen. It has a majorly talented cast, even though some of the big players like Corey Stoll and Peter Sarsgaard only have a few scenes. It's been awhile since I had read anything on Bulger, so I didn't mind the refresher. 

It's nice to see Johnny Depp back in this form. He's a force as Bulger. Quietly terrifying and unpredictable. This is the Depp we've been missing over the past few years. Egerton is still on a roll as of late, playing the cocky and disingenuous Conolly.  You get to the point where you're really rooting against him. Especially when Conolly is speaking with his fellow co-workers played by Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, and David Harbour - who is supremely underrated and gives the best performance second to Depp in this film. He's obviously a guy trying to do the right thing who gets way in over his head, and you can slowly seem him come apart as he realizes this.

For a film about a crime lord, It's not nearly as violent as it could've been. It earns its R rating, but for anyone that is afraid of it being too gory, it's not bad at all. The atmosphere of the film is intense and the pacing is perfect. (They apparently edited out at least 30 minutes from the original cut) Sure, some were shaky on their accents (Benedict Cumberbatch some of the time, Dakota Johnson all of the time, but yell yes to Juno Temple who nailed it in her one scene) but none are bad enough to distract for very long.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "If you ever come into my office again with a fucked up idea like that, you will rue the day you joined the FBI." - Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Random thought: How the hell did Dakota Johnson secure top billing for this film? If any female should've gotten that honor, it should've been Julianne Nicholson. 

28 comments:

  1. Glad to hear you really liked it. I'm definitely goung to see it eventually. Even more than the hype surrounding Depp, the fact that opinions seem to be all over the place on this one.

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    1. I've noticed that too. Admittedly I don't watch too many gangster movies, but this is easily one of the better ones.

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  2. I gotta check this one out! I had a chance....but I needed something shorter (ie: a pile of dogshit) to watch instead. Ugh.

    Great post! Can't wait!

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    1. I think you'll really like this one. It doesn't feel as long as it really is, that surprised me a bit. I expected it to drag.

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  3. Dang! Last Saturday, my hubby and I went out for our Anniversary for a dinner and a movie. We were late to the theatre so the only seats remaining to see this film were in the very front row. I like my neck not to have a kink in it so we asked about a Walk In The Woods but it had already started so we took...The Visit. Ughh. This sounds like a great film and can't wait to see it. I had heard Johnny Depp wanted to make those other films while his kids were little. As for Dakota -there is always the ever popular casting couch:)

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    1. Oh God, The Visit? I can't with M. Night anymore. lol

      I hope you get a chance to see this.

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    2. Yep. I did The Visit, too.

      Fuck.

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    3. It is very sad.....very sad. In the way it was filmed-Sucked!!

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  4. Great review! I'm glad you liked this one, I haven't seen it yet but I'm looking forward to it. It's got some really mixed views from what I've seen.
    - Allie

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    1. Very mixed, but I'm happy to be on the positive end of "mixed"

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  5. I'm glad to hear this is good. It definitely has a strong cast, and I'm relieved to hear that Johnny Depp is finally doing good work again.

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    1. I'm relived to see it. It feels like it's been so long.

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  6. Wow, it has been a long time since I saw a good Johnny Depp performance. Glad to hear he's finally back.
    Super excited to see this.

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    1. It has been way too long. He needs to do more of this and less Burton/Jack Sparrow roles. (Even though I loved Sweeney Todd)

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  7. I'll be honest--I wasn't too jazzed with this movie outside of Johnny Depp's performance. It didn't have much artistic flare cinematically...it was very text book as a story.

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    1. I can see that. It was very straightforward, but I don't mind a film like this not being so artistic. I liked the sort of grey tone they had going on. It was very ominous to me.

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  8. This looks promising but I must say I find the casting of Adam Scott a bit jarring. How is he in the role?

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    1. It's a small role but he's very convincing. One of my favorite films is actually a drama he did called The Vicious Kind. He's good in drama.

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  9. I'll be seeing this for Edgerton. It sounds good though, and so I'm happy that it's worth seeing as opposed to...you know...being another terrible Johnny Depp movie.

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    1. Depp is just incredible here. I hope you like it, the opinions on it are so mixed.

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  10. I liked it, but I was slightly disappointed. I prefer Depp's Dillinger to his Bulger. :P

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    1. I thought he was good in both roles. I liked this movie better than the other, so I think I lean towards Bulger.

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  11. I thought this film was a drag. Edgerton's performance is what really saved the film for me, though. He was even better than Johnny Depp who was okay.

    Also, when looking at pictures of the real Whitey Bulger, I wonder why have Depp play the role caked in makeup when Ben Mendelsohn exists. He looks more like the real Bulger than Depp does.

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    1. True. He is a bigger star. He doesn't have the same pull that he used to. But he is a bigger name.

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No seriously, post one. I need attention.