Monthly Archives: September 2015

Black Mass

I’ll admit, I knew little to nothing about Whitey Bulger before seeing this film. Sadly, by the end of it, I really feel like I still don’t know much about him.

And who doesn't love a delicious steak?

And who doesn’t love a delicious steak?

Brief synopsis: Black Mass is based on the true story of a criminal-turned-informant-turned-crimelord; what began as a joint effort to take down the Boston Italian mob lead to the creation of a power-mad monster – a man who couldn’t be stopped simply because blood is thicker than water.

I want to believe that this film is a portrait of a man who was simply looking out for himself and his community, but I can’t help but think that the heart of the piece is lost in the grit, as is motivation. Maybe that was the idea? Perhaps Scott Cooper wanted to portray a first-person look the rise and violent fall of an empire? Nah, I’m probably just looking too far into it.

Though origin tales are overdone, I really would have appreciated a small look into the turn to crime – just a small taste of what made this man so methodically vicious.

Though it seems MK-ULTRA didn't do him much good...

Though it seems MK-ULTRA didn’t do him much good…

On the upside, the performances were great. Like really, really great – even Rolling Stone thinks that Johnny Depp’s take on Bulger might be the cusp of an oncoming Deppessaince. And as advertised, this puppy has a hell of an ensemble – though, it was weird seeing Benedict Cumberbatch pull off a Boston accent.

Despite my gripes about the storytelling, I honestly feel that Black Mass is a welcomed addition to American crime drama. The pacing and tone are perfectly matched by well-crafted cinematography (thank you, Masanobu Takayangi), and the score just adds to this dreary, tense agglomeration (dreary and tense in the best possible way, of course). Personally, I think if there was just a bit more, well, personality, or more definition, this might be one of the better dramas of the year. But that’s just me.

Oh yeah, #freethebacon

Oh yeah, #freethebacon

Final Grade: B

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