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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About reelgirl

Film lover, kitsch enthusiast, and all around neat gal. You can read what I'm up to at Reel Girl Reviews!

Posted on September 22, 2015, in Review and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Great review, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t know much about Whitey Bulger! I’m still looking forward to seeing Black Mass, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten as much praise as I expected 😦
    – Allie

  2. I recall seeing his name in the news a few years ago. Not sure I’ll pay him the compliment of seeing a movie based on his life…

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