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  • Black Mass: A Near Miss

    'Black Mass' is another is a line of crime dramas set in Boston. The film will inevitable be compared to 'The Departed.' And it falls short in the comparison. The acting is top rate, and Depp is much better, not as hammy, than the comic portrait of a crime boss by Nicholson in 'The Departed.' Depp is genuinely threatening in the film and the make-up job given him in the film adds to the fright.

    'Black Mass' has the look of a 70s television show, and that works in its favor. In fact, the overall look of the film is exquisite. That, and the acting, are the two best things in the film. However, the movie is both too much and not enough.

    'Black Mass' tries to cover too much and thus it lacks focus. This is where 'The Departed' succeeds. While 'The Departed' has many layers and character, it has a focus: the Southie, Billy. 'Black Mass' doesn't have a main theme, a main character, a main protagonist or antagonist. There are a bunch of characters in tense situations with some irony and symbolism. However, in the end, there is nothing to hold onto, no lessons, no emotions, love or hate, for any characters.

    As I was watching, both my film buddy and I thought the same thing: Scorsese could have made this story work with his writing and directing. We also thought that in an era of long- form television that it could have made a great 10-20 episode show. Then it could have gone into depth about the childhood relationships between crime boss Bulger, his FBI friend Connolly and Whitey's brother, State Senator Billy Bulger.

    As miniseries, it could have more deeply explored the racial tensions between the Irish and Italians with the African Americans stuck in the middle. It could have taken a deeper look into Boston politics and corruption, police corruption, and more. The miniseries could have also gone further into the Irish American funding of the IRA. As it was, it touched on each of those issues in an unsatisfactory fashion. If the film had taken a deeper look into any ONE of those themes, it would have made for a better movie.

    Rating: Matinée

    For the great look and outstanding acting, I suggest you see it on the big screen. Otherwise, wait for the miniseries. Hey, a man can dream.

    Peace, Tex Shelters
  • Black Mass serves as a nice redemption for the floundering career of Johnny Depp, who has leaned more on quirky voices and loud makeup than his actual skills in recent years. His portrayal of mob boss Whitey Bulger is a powerhouse performance and easily his best since he first introduced the world to Jack Sparrow. It's too bad the movie as a whole doesn't fair quite as well. Despite a great cast and some interestingly insane source material, somehow a movie about one of America's most infamous criminals feels more like small claims court. Director Cooper focuses his narrative on Bulger's less-than-legal partnership with the FBI. It's a fascinatingly close-knit community we witness (agents, felons, politicians, and families alike) in which loyalty and corruption go hand-in-hand. It's a grimy yet quiet 70's-feel gangster film that engages its audience nearly as much as it reminds them of better films. Therein lies its big problem: What is Black Mass offering that hasn't already been perfected in other gangster films? Unfortunately, instead of a true movie-making vision, it's like a guy watched every crime drama from the last 40 years and just spit out a less-interesting copycat. Not that a counterfeit of something great can't still have its positives: the score is beautiful and the performances from the top-notch cast around Depp are nearly as superb as his, all of whom nail the oft-parodied Bostonian accent with aplomb. But with too many side plots to juggle, not enough cohesion to the storytelling, and an unfortunate lack of auteur vision, Black Mass just can't stand against the great American crime films of yore (Chinatown, Godfather, Goodfellas).
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I swear to God I really really wanted to like this movie. I am kind of a fan of Bulger's for some sick reason and I felt like Johnny Depp was appropriately menacing and weird looking and did a good job with making the Violence believable. What failed was the writing. There is never really any attention paid to why Whitey was Whitey or how he got to be Whitey or why he wanted to be Whitey. His kid is dead his marriage ruined and he is just accumulating money to accumulate money? Why? He apparently has no vices to speak of except giving money to con men from the IRA. The whole thing just makes no sense. The whole thing just seemed apathetic.It could have been a real classic but they fornicated with the puppy yet again. It was just Depp looking weird and enjoying a WHitey Halloween costume while he strangled hookers and killed informants. Thanks Hollywood. I suspect you can blame the producers.
  • masonsaul7 August 2020
    Despite it's generic approach to it's story, Black Mass is still a great crime drama that's tense, thrilling and chilling. Johnny Depp gives an incredible lead performance and one of the best performances of his career. Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon and Corey Stoll all give great supporting performances. Scott Cooper's direction is also great, it's well filmed and extremely well paced. The music by Tom Holkenborg and the soundtrack are both good.
  • MrPorkuz29 September 2015
    Black Mass is a crime drama movie revolving around the true events behind the Winter Hill Gang and the gang's leader Whitey Bulger played by Johnny Depp. The premise for the film was very interesting as it played on Whitey Bulger's connections as his brother, William Bulger, played by Benedict Cummberbatch is a Massachusetts State Senator while one of his childhood friends John Connolly played by Joel Edgerton is an FBI agent. This an amazing premise however it was not fully executed as it focused mainly on Joel Edgerton's character and Cummberbatch's character felt out of place at times. This may have been a more realistic approach however I felt like they could have utilized Cummberbatch's character more in the film as it would have added two assets for Whitey. The Film is divided in three parts overlooking Whitey's almost twenty year reign. However because of this approach it leaves viewers wondering what happened in that time frame and feels as if it was forced to make the movie feel more like the actually events, so spread out. The cinematography and direction of the film is very crisp and sleek which makes the film a lot more enjoyable. The acting all together throughout the film is superb as it holds a stellar cast. I found Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton,Kevin Bacon and Benedict Cummberbatch to be all great. Depp's performance was electrifying and he should get an Oscar nod but I would not be surprised if he does not get one.

    Overall decent film

  • apgpuckslinger25 September 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    I saw this movie with a bunch of my college friends (we are all in college). They all loved it. And I will say that Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton were fantastic in this movie, however, the movie lacked the qualities of a great mob movie. I have always been fascinated by the mob genre. I have watched the sopranos, goodfellas, donnie brasco, the godfather, and basically all mob movies under the sun. I feel like Johnny Depp and Edgerton are great at portraying their characters, but I feel like no other character was developed at all. Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the great actors of today, but Cooper just wasted his talents on a weak supporting role.

    I was also looking forward to see the inner workings of how Whitey Bulger came to power. I understand that he was a silent, cold-blooded mobster that used the FBI to become to be one of the most influential criminals in Boston. However, other then a few choking scenes and murder scenes, I would have liked Cooper to show more of the specifics of Bulger's rise to power. Also, we rarely see Bulger interacting in the everyday mob-life, but we always see how he handles unique, problematic situations all-the time. I would have liked to have seen one normal day in Whitey Bulger's life given the movie was only was 2 hours long.

    Overall, a decent movie with great acting by Depp and Edgerton, but lacking on some of the finer details of a classic mob movie.

    P.S. I could not take Ben Wyatt serious in that mustache.
  • Encompassed with episodic rhythm and an awfully conventional format, Scott Cooper mutates a story of rich soil capable of greatness to a detaching and routine crime film. Black Mass grasps only on the superficial layer as it focuses solely on documented events of the crime they organized. Due to this, the movie suffers as it seems to be merely a biography- laying out these horrific events in these specified timeframes but not putting any focus on the characters that performed it. All action, but none of the story that happens between that allows the audience to view who they are and what they're like. Black Mass fails to delve deeper into the roots, and this of course limits the scope of all the actors. Great mob cinematography such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, and the Sopranos- all of these were so great because they allowed the audience to see what the characters were like when they weren't shooting, beating, or plotting against people.

    That being said, in their limited boxes boy do these actors put on a show. Led by Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton, the audience can tell straight from the start that this cast reveled and lived their roles. With the amount of overwhelming, heinous events; the film had to have someone cold-hearted and sleazy, and woah did these actors become the epitome of that. However, due to this heavily limited character, the only "rise" the audience feels are from the bone-chilling actions that these men did. Black Mass fails to captivate. And when the closing credits roll a feeling of disappointment washes over you, as it feels like you just watched an episode on the ID channel with really, really good actors.
  • urthpainter20 September 2015
    If you like slow, plodding movies full of unlikeable characters, by all means gear up for this sleep inducing film. Goodfellas is an action movie compared to Black Mass.

    There are a few good qualities here: top shelf production, excellent acting, a clear, concise story of characters making poor choices - leading to predictable consequences.

    But who cares? There's no entertainment here! None of these characters are worth giving a damn about, and the few sporadic scenes that offer any true value sit like islands on a still horizonless sea.

    But I learned something... Really? This might be the number one reason to sit through this boring expanse, and the info is not worth it. The scumbags are scumbags, the protagonist is a weak, shallow excuse for a law enforcer, and the other surrounding characters are bland at best (including Benedict, who for all his talent, brings nothing of note to an already white bread affair). Speaking of white bread - No culture what-so-ever, and often these fat, out of shape gangsters look absurd in their early 80's sunglasses and attire. There will be no awards given for costuming or make-up here. True Depp is transformed with prosthetics, but as a friend and I joked - his character is far exceeded by the likes of Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder.

    If you've seen the trailer, you've been robbed of one of the films three or four memorable moments. Interestingly, all of these good scenes are just spice to the meat of the film. This is not a good thing! When the main arc is dull, the violence (while realistic) lacks stylistic punctuation, and the constant voice overs are delivered with apathy... one wonders what the hell the director was thinking!

    Waste of time, even for fans of actors involved.

    my score? a disappointingly average 5 out of 10.
  • Black mass is a decent flick, but by no means is it anything more than decent. Nothing stood out at all; the acting was fine, the story was fine, and the soundtrack was terrible in my opinion. The music sounded like it belonged in a Bourne movie. All of the "plot-twists" that were supposed to feel surprising didn't feel very surprising. It was completely obvious when something bad was going to happen to someone, unlike other gang movies like Goodfellas or Godfather.

    If your not too picky and want to watch some decent gang action and drama then you will likely enjoy this movie, but if your a movie snob like me I would recommend passing on this one.
  • The only time I ever recall of being terrified of Johnny Depp as a character was in Sweeney Todd and I never thought he could top that performance.

    But I stand corrected, his performance as Whitey Bulger is not only terrifying as hell but one of the best performances Depp has ever pulled off! This is the type of the film that makes you want more and more after each scene is done all the way towards the end, and the supporting characters really help Black Mass reach its full potential of hitting the right spots for a moviegoer. Scott Cooper did an amazing job in this biopic he also she be up for best director, Joel Edgerton steals the spotlight in some scenes and bloody nails it in all the screen time he gets. This film also has a nice funny side to it as well which really makes you laugh then BAM all seriousness. By far probably the best film I have seen this year!

    Deserves more than 10/10
  • I try not to get my hopes up too much for certain movies, and "Black Mass" (which I got very excited about) just reminds me why.

    Oh, Scott Cooper... how did you manage to make one of the most twisted, unusual, and mysterious gangster stories into an emotionless web of a film? From acting to editing, there was so much wrong that it's almost surprising.

    My main issue was the nonexistence of a certain necessity: stakes. In all great mafia flicks, stakes are essential. Would "Goodfellas" have been as remarkable if it didn't feel like any wrong move would set off a universe-ending set of events? Would the "Godfather" have been considered the greatest film of all time if a war wasn't seconds away from breaking out? "Black Mass" managed to keep a story that easily could've had those steaks from having any at all. This was, of course, caused by the emotionless acting, but more on that in a second. But this film really made me not care if the protagonist (whether you consider that to be Bulger or Connolly) lives or dies; and in a mob movie, that is a worse crime than anything committed on screen.

    So the acting I blame entirely on Cooper. Every single actor did a great job with what they were given, but the problem is that they were given the wrong thing. For example, Depp was probably told to play a silent yet psychotic, friendly yet intimidating crime lord. Did he do that well? Absolutely. Is that who the character was written as? Not at all. Same goes for Joel Edgerton's - who I thought did the best job out of all of the actors - character, Jesse Plemons' character, and even smaller characters like Adam Scott's. All those actors did well, but not in the right parts.

    The list goes on with issues, so let's talk about why the movie got 2 stars rather than zero (therefore, let's talk about the positives). I've heard some critics discuss the overuse of violence in the film. Though there is quite a bit of violence, I thought it was used very tastefully. No blood was used where it didn't seem necessary, and personally, I think that the violence becomes numbing, which takes us even further into the mob guys' mentality on murder. Also, I thought the shooting locations were very well chosen, as they really captured the narrow-mindedness of the lead characters' lives.

    So should you see this movie? -If you love mafia movies of any shape or size, then go see it. -If you love Johnny Depp, wait until it comes out on demand. -If you don't love mafia movies, haven't seen many mafia movies, or just have none of the listed qualities above, then don't see this film.
  • The intrigue of all crime movies relies on a simple idea: people are complex, but actions are not. Behind every reductive, one-word crime —"murder," "theft," "extortion"– is a human with a motive and a history to support that motive. Part of the reason we follow the stories of criminals is to overlay ourselves on their paths, trace the steps around their intentions, and see where they turn where you would not. Great crime stories give us the opportunity feel our own humanity guide us through darkness. Unfortunately, I felt nothing while watching Black Mass.

    Heralded as a return to acting form for Johnny Depp, Black Mass tells the true-crime story of James "Whitey" Bulger, a mythologized, south-Boston crime lord who operated from the late 70's to early 90's. As an adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, the film portrays the key years of Bulger's ascent to power in the Boston crime world, during which he acted as an FBI-informant through slick FBI agent (and Southie homeboy) John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). At the behest of Connolly and his less enthusiastic boss Charles McGuire (Kevin Bacon), Bulger provides information that precipitates the downfall of the Italian mob, allowing his own Winter Hill gang to take over all aspects of Boston crime, from the drug trade to money laundering, and everything in-between.

    However, with such a compelling, cant-fail crime premise, the film is bafflingly hollow. Other than hearing a laundry list of crimes that Bulger supposedly spearheads, we almost never see any crimes being committed, other than the odd shotgun rampage or prostitute murder (both which felt sadly derivative for such gruesome scenes). Doors slam, money is exchanged, and men with furrowed brows walk hastily down empty alleys—but it never feels like we are made to understand why.

    Where is the money coming from? What are Whitey's motivations? Who are the victims of these crimes, or rather, where are the commoners (for a film with such a large cast, it seems completely devoid of extras) of Boston at all? Even the undeniable Benedict Cumberbatch seems adrift and misused in his role as Whitey's state senator brother Billy Bulger.

    Director Scott Cooper chose to focus only on a handful of key years during Whitey's reign of terror, perhaps to draw focus on his peak instead of wasting time on his rise or fall. Unfortunately, the result is a dubiously avowed criminal juggernaut who feels–and sometimes looks—like he is made out of paper. Much has been made of Depp's transformation into the balding, ghostly Bulger through the magic of makeup, prosthetics, and false teeth. He looks legitimately ghoulish throughout the film, yet the performance feels thin and insubstantial, perhaps less due to Depp's acting than to the camera's disinterest.

    Depp does has his moments, especially in one particularly tense scene where he slinks out of the shadows to confront Connolly's untrusting wife Marianne (Julianne Nicholson), lurking over her like a pale, demonic shadow. During that scene, I felt like I was watching a horror movie. Afterwards, I could only lament the fact the rest of the movie didn't try harder to be a horror movie, or didn't try harder to be anything interesting at all.

    Black Mass has the trappings of a great film with solid performances, beautifully lit shots, and a wealth of source materials, making its ultimate failure that much more disappointing. Crime stories are a staple of American cinema and we accept them for their inherent limitations. However, in 2015 it's simply unacceptable to approach the making of a crime movie with absolutely no creative spirit.

    Several other reviews have likened Black Mass to a poor imitation of Goodfellas or other Scorsese films. If Goodfellas is the gourmet pâtisserie of crime movies, then Black Mass is an airport Cinnabon, a fluorescently lit sprawl of half baked, cookie-cutter crime characters we've all come to expect–a dash of angry FBI chief here, a sprinkle of disgruntled mob grunt there–who delivered their lines and then seemingly evaporate into stale air. The movie runs over two excruciating hours yet fails to make plain the impact of the Bulger's crimes, resulting in a story which accomplishes the impossible feat of feeling both protracted and unfinished.

    Scott Cooper strives to portray Whitey Bulger as the boogeyman, an unstoppable nightmare whose actions are made infinitely more terrifying by the knowledge that they exist in reality. Instead, Black Mass is the kind of dream that you forget the instant you wake up.

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  • The icy blue eyes of notorious Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger stare out from the screen in Scott Cooper's "Black Mass" like the gaze of some confident jungle predator calmly lying in wait, holding his ground until the moment he moves in for the kill. And that same coolly calculated composure extends to every aspect of how the actor playing Bulger embodies the role, or rather disappears into it. But if Johnny Depp's mesmerizing performance — a bracing return to form for the star after a series of critical and commercial misfires — is the chief selling point of "Black Mass," there is much else to recommend this sober, sprawling, deeply engrossing evocation of Bulger's South Boston fiefdom and his complex relationship with the FBI agent John Connolly, played with equally impressive skill by Joel Edgerton. Something of an anti-"The Departed" (which was partly inspired by the Bulger case), the movie has an intentionally muted, '70s-style look and feel that may limit its appeal to the date-night multiplex crowd, but quality- starved adult moviegoers should flock to one of the fall's first serious, awards-caliber attractions. Not only that but Benedict Cumberbatch (who plays as a Senator and as Whitey's brother) has given a stellar performance. He is truly a talented person who gives his all in every film/show he acts.

    BOTTOM LINE: Johnny Depp deserves an Oscar, if not then at least a nomination. Truly worth watching
  • I don't usually write reviews but I felt compelled to inform others about how awful this film was. And I want to prefice this by saying I love crime films and have seen the greats such as Goodfellas, the Godfather, and The Departed but this was just drivel.

    Let's start with the acting: Johnny Depp plays Boston crime lord James "Whitey" Bulger and reveals virtually nothing about the character he plays aside from the violent actions he portrays. The supporting cast does nothing to make this a compelling story either with the exception of Joel Edgerton's John Connolly as a street-wise kid turned FBI agent loyal to Bulger's cause.

    The pacing and dialogue are also the biggest culprits here. The film develops slowly leaving the watcher wondering if it will ever pick up to an emotional crescendo with only to find out the ride is as monotonous as your daily drive. Moreover, the dialogue feels like students taking turns reading out of a textbook. I know that the film is a biographic one but there's no need to have it feel as though you're reading a Wikipedia article.

    Likewise, the musical score tries to underpin the uneasy feel of the movie but only works to put the viewer to sleep with its two tone rise and fall. None of the cinematography and shots of the scenes work to create anything worth capturing attention. There are shots of Southie that do convey the bleak outlook of Bulger's turf but they are few and far between as the film mostly focuses on the boring and uninspired dialogue and setting the actors are captured in such as living rooms, offices, dark bars, and car interiors.

    If I was to summarize watching this film with an analogy I would describe it as eating and tasting a cardboard box.
  • I was very interested in watching this film as a true-crime buff. We all understand that there will be a certain amount of theatrical license taken whenever dealing with such subject matter. I didn't expect it to be too far off base from reality since the Whitey Bulger fiasco has been highly publicized. Johnny Depp was a little odd choice in my opinion by his been known to pull bigger rabbits on the hat (even literally). Good to have Johnny Depp reminders every once in while he's a legitimate actor not just trying to fund additional island property.

    The problem in films of this nature tend to be how familiar the general public is with the issues and our opinions of what we believe reality to be. We hold film a little too stringently against reality or at least what the media has presented as reality to most of us. I would like to think that enough due diligence has gone into whatever form of dramaturgy has happened by responsible parties to present a relatively balanced film. But in general we want the grit and grime without regard for legalities or implications.

    True, the film focuses on alliances and the levity provided that we have always suspected. And we have seen a ton of films in this genre with such focus and we have fabricated our own concepts of how such organizations work, how such unholy alliances are formed, and therefore have an expectation of what we should see. This past history in turn doesn't really provide a fair shake for any film in the current time frame as we have so much the compare it to.

    I believe that the real demystification of this spell (not to say the cast wasn't good or to question the deftness of Depp) is that we seem to have seen this story a lot. We know how it ends, we realize there's very little arc and we'd like to see a twist to the hat trick that we haven't seen before... If it sticks to the reality of the situation, it's simply not gonna happen.

    Does it deliver? Yes. Is it a Tarantino yarn? Not remotely. Will you be entertained, to a greater extent? Yes.

    I think this year DiCaprio may have Depp on this one.
  • The American crime genre is arguably the cornerstone of modern cinema. Think cinematic masterpieces and there's a good chance every third one is a mobster flick or underworld yarn. This breed of film is nothing if not reliable. Why, then, is the first notable movie about one of U.S.A's most notorious and durable heads of crime so unmemorable? Checking off key points in an organised but uninspired manner, this James "Whitey" Bulger biopic is seemingly more concerned about fitting in all the Wiki-worthy moments rather than truly delving into the psyche of a monstrous man. The unfocused script stems from the choice to trace two decades of Bulger's life (1975 to 1995), an unwieldy stretch of time that results in an unclear filmic timeline and the requirement for truly horrible makeup and wigs. Johnny Depp has succeeded at portraying a gangster before – his John Dillinger in Public Enemies is enthralling – however he's lumped with too many poorly executed physical alterations and character development shortcomings to make an impression here. Aussie Joel Edgerton fares better as a morally intriguing federal agent skating on thin ice, and Kevin Bacon is enjoyable as a frustrated FBI boss, but why Benedict Cumberbatch signed on for such an inconsequential role, as Bulger's Senator brother, is anyone's guess. Scott Cooper keeps it relatively low-key behind the camera, aside from a couple of stylish murder sequences, with the suitably dour cinematography and unfussy score following suit. Overall Black Mass is never overtly bad, per se; its major sin is just being so damn standard.
  • In the 70's, the Irish criminal James "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) is the leader of the Winter Hill Gang in South Boston after imprisonments for many years. His brother William "Billy" Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a Massachusetts Senator. When the ambitious FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) is assigned to investigate the mafia in Boston, he proposes a deal to Whitey, who is a childhood friend, to become an FBI informant; in return, the FBI would neglect any investigation of his gang. They take down the Italian mob with Whitey's information while Whitey becomes one of the most powerful and notorious gangsters in South Boston. But when the prosecutor Fred Wyshak (Corey Stoll) is assigned to Boston, he demands investigation of Whitey despite the interference of Connolly and Whitey becomes one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List criminals.

    "Black Mass" is another crime film based on the biography of a notorious gangster, this time the criminal James "Whitey" Bulger in South Boston. The impressive performance of Johnny Depp is maybe the greatest attraction of this movie. The story is like many others of notorious American gangsters, with violence, corruption and justice in the end. "Black Mass" never disappoints fans of this genre and the production is careful with the atmosphere in the late 70's and 80's. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): "Aliança do Crime" ("Crime Alliance")
  • dilip_tuli_2026 October 2015
    Warning: Spoilers
    Considering how Depp has already portrayed the role of John Dillinger in Public Enemies, my expectations for this movie were soaring high and I was sure that Depp would do wonders with this role. But surprisingly enough, he didn't do wonders but instead he did something unimaginable, something so exceptional that it very well may be regarded as his finest performance till date.

    The story chronicles around the life of James "Whitey" Bulger. When his control over his... turf is challenged by the northern Angiulo Brothers (mafia family), he has no choice but to become an informant for the FBI... correction as Jimmy says.. strike a business deal with them. What follows is a series of events that depict the rise of a small time gangster into becoming one of the most infamous violent criminals in the history of South Boston.

    Scott Cooper takes you on a journey which is downright brutal and chilling. There is not a single moment in the movie where you'll want to take your eyes off the screen. He manages to get you hooked from the very beginning and before you realise you're completely involved in the lives of all the characters. I mean that's the mark of a brilliant director, isn't it? To be able to have such an impact on his audiences that they would talk about the movie even after they've left the theater.

    Johnny Depp with his icy blue eyes will definitely give you chills and creeps. His predator like gaze will stare right through the screen and pierce your body to give you the shivers you've never felt before. The unpredictability of his character will bring about many uncomfortable scenes for the audiences.

    Trust me when I say this the only time I've been terrified of him is when he starred in Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd. He has managed to shut the mouth of every critic that said his career was going downhill. His transformation into Jimmy is so real that it almost makes it difficult to recognise him.

    Well to praise only Depp would not be right because the movie would not fair well without its supporting cast. From Jimmy's right-hand man Stephen Flemmi (exceptionally well portrayed by Rory Cochrane) to the newcomer Kevin Weeks (Jesse Plemons) and the cold and calculative hit-man, Johnny Martorano (W. Earl Brown). Also, John Connolly, played by none other than Joel Edgerton, who's back in his neighborhood to bring down the Angiulo Brothers by any means possible.

    And not to forget Billy Bulger (Benedict) as the powerful state senator. Although given only a little screen space, he still manages to leave an impact (like always.. hater's gona hate).

    People say you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did. So not getting your asses of the couch and watching this movie will definitely be the one thing that you'll regret. Trust me on that. To conclude, Depp deserves nothing short of an Oscar for his "Strictly Criminal" performance. I hope you enjoy it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Out of the Furnace" director Scott Cooper's "Black Mass" qualifies as a gritty, atmospheric, but middling mobster melodrama that chronicles the life and crimes of James "Whitey" Bulger, a notorious Boston gangster with an Irish upbringing who evaded authorities for 16 years before justice eventually caught and convicted him for 11 homicides. Adapted from a thoroughgoing non-fiction bestseller by "Boston Globe" reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, this unsavory, R-rated, crime chiller provides "Pirates of the Caribbean" star Johnny Depp with a chance to atone for far too many silly, superficial comedies. Academy Award-winner Jack Nicholson did an imaginary take on this real-life sociopath in Martin Scorsese's memorable law and order epic "The Departed," a mob movie ten times more suspenseful than "Black Mass." Now, Depp stars as the infamous felon himself. Although he appears incredibly chilling as the bloodthirsty maniac who is currently serving two life sentences plus five years, nothing about Depp's performance reveals any insights about this heinous individual. Indeed, thanks to prosthetics galore, Depp bears a striking resemblance to Bulger, but nothing beneath his grim, tight-lipped portrayal yields a clue about the murderer's mindset. Reportedly, Bulger refused to talk to Depp about his life. Meantime, this is not the Depp that we have grown accustomed to in movies like the frivolous "Pirates" franchise, "The Lone Ranger," "Tusk," "Dark Shadows," and "Mortdecai." Instead, this is the Depp of "Public Enemies," "Donnie Brasco," and "Once Upon a Time in Mexico." As Bulger, Depp strangles a defenseless young harlot with a rope, beats an adversary to death with his bare fists, and mows downs an unarmed, but treacherous henchman with a carbine. Don't walk into "Black Mass" and imagine you're going to see something that will make you giggle with glee. Unquestionably, "Black Mass" constitutes a long overdue return to form for the immensely talented Depp. Critics have hailed his performance as Oscar worthy. As unforgettable as Depp is, the man who steals the show and delivers the best performance is Depp's co-star Joel Edgerton of "Warriors." Cast as corrupt FBI Agent John Connolly, who conspired with the real-life Bulger to shield him from prosecution, Edgerton emerges as nothing short of sensational. While Depp relies on prosthetics to impersonate Bulger, Edgerton shuns elaborate make-up and turns the tainted FBI agent into a sympathetic flesh and blood character. He gets under Connolly's skin and shows us what makes the man tick.

    A profane, violent, but episodic crime thriller, "Black Mass" covers familiar ground. Director Scott Cooper, who also helmed "Crazy Heart," neither pulls any punches in his casual depiction of mob violence nor does he startle us with any surprises. You've seen everything that Cooper stages here in other gangster movies. Essentially, "Black Mass" is an empire-building crime film, but Cooper doesn't recount either how Bulger established his empire or solidified it with his intimidating reputation. Instead, he dwells on episodes that earlier movies like "The Departed," "Goodfellas," "The Town," "Killing Me Softly," "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," and the two "Boondock Saints" thrillers have done before and done with greater panache. Basically, the action unfolds in five year increments, beginning in 1975 as a number of Bulger's cronies cut deals with the Feds to save their necks. Freshman scenarist Mark Mallouk and "Edge of Tomorrow" scribe Jez Butterworth neglect to explore the psychology behind the treachery that prompted Bulger's underlings to inform on him. Meantime, Cooper focuses almost entirely on the relationship between Bulger and Connolly. The subplot involving Whitey's older brother Billy could have been left on the editing room floor. Incredibly, "Black Mass" omits some of the more compelling incidents in the page-turning Lehr and O'Neill book. Specifically, the filmmakers have altered the events that brought Bulger and Connolly together as conspirators as well as some of the crimes.

    A convicted bank robber who did 9-years in Alcatraz, Bulger masqueraded as a Robin Hood-style gangster around South Boston, but his fellow goons weren't fooled by his shenanigans. Ironically, loyalty among these thieves is the first casualty. As the film unfolds, Bulger henchman Kevin Weeks (Jesse Plemons of "Varsity Blues"), goes on the record swearing that he isn't a "rat!" On the other hand, FBI Agent John Connolly worshiped the ground that Bulger trod and refused to testify against him. Connolly grew up in the same blue-collar Irish neighborhood as Bulger. Whitey intervened in a fight where Connolly would have suffered grievously without his support. Connolly struggles to convince his wife Marianne (Julianne Nicholson of "Kinsey") that loyalty supersedes morality. Nevertheless, her husband's adulation for Bulger repels her. Connolly sets out to recruit Bulger as a source, but Bulger balks at being an informant. Inevitably, Connolly forges an unholy alliance with Bulger, so the Bureau can crush the Mafia in Boston and he could claim credit for the demise of the Italians. Ultimately, Connolly sold his soul to the devil, while Cooper makes Bulger appear as sinister as Satan.

    Distinguished by its brooding cinematography, authentic production values, and documentary flavor, "Black Mass" succeeds more as a tour de force showcase for the actors than a landmark example of a gangster movie. A top-tier supporting cast, featuring "Sherlock" star Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger's brother Billy, who carved out a reputation for himself in Congress as a man of the people, surround Depp and Edgerton. Kevin Bacon, David Harbour, and Adam Scott play Connolly's eloquent, well-tailored, FBI colleagues. Harbour delivers a powerful performance as the weak link in the group of FBI agents who turn a blind eye to Bulger's criminal activities as long as he furnishes them with information about the Mafia. As Bulger's amoral associates, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, and W. Earl Brown will make your skin crawl. Peter Sarsgaard rounds out the cast as one of Bulger's sadistic but ill-fated adversaries. Nobody gives a weak performance in "Black Mass." Sadly, for all of his crime-does-not-pay sentiments, Cooper has fashioned a dreary, sluggish crime saga devoid of any cinematic flair or unpredictable spontaneity.
  • Black Mass tells the story of the infamous alliance between the Boston FBI and the city's bastard son, James "Whitey" Bulger. In telling a story that has stained Boston and the FBI for all of eternity and telling with precision, guts and, most of all, honesty, it solidifies Black Mass as one of the best films of the year thus far. Starring an unrecognizable Johnny Depp and a scene stealing Joel Edgerton, the film blasts off on screen, making you want more and more as it play out. Just like in typical gangster fashion, there are long speeches, there is brutal violence and there is not one moment where it ever lets up. While the film itself doesn't break any new ground regarding gangster films, it is still a more than welcomed addition to the lot of them and may even become iconic but it is a bit too early to tell. Johnny Depp is absolutely fantastic as Bulger. Depp brings a level of performance to the table that we haven't seen in years. He can be charming, cunning, ruthless and, at times, so cold blooded you question if this man has any humanity. For an actor to be able to pull off this kind of role, it takes a specific mind set and Johnny Depp nails it. Between scenes of him murdering anyone who threatens his empire, we see Bulger, the family man. The man that would kill for nothing being brought to his knees as he is told his son has died. There is humanity in Depp's performance as Bulger, there's just so many layers to peel back in order to get to it. I can't rave about Depp enough. The man is mind blowingly fantastic in this film and no words I can put down can justify the level of perfection he brings to this film. Joel Edgerton plays John Connolly, who ends up stealing the show in many scenes. Edgerton has become a force to be reckoned with and a pool of untapped talent that has finally been able to roar to the surface with August's The Gift (for which he wrote, directed and starred) and now with Black Mass. I sense an Oscar nomination for his work in Black Mass. He is THAT good. To be able to act opposite of Depp's career best performance and hold your own, that is saying something in and of itself. Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Julianne Nicholson, Rory Cochrane and everyone else in this cast is pitch perfect. Even Dakota Johnson is good but then again, my expectations for her was that it was going to be hard to take her seriously but she ended up delivering a fantastic performance as Lyndsay Cyr. Scott Cooper has directed some pretty fantastic films, Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace. But Black Mass is his masterpiece thus far. Cooper created a film drenched in the styles of the 70s cinema. It acts a love letter to films like The Godfather, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Mean Streets and even Serpico. Cooper's direction skyrockets what could have easily been a bomb into something very organic and very special. The cinematography is absolutely fantastic in this film, covering Boston never like a character but as a playground for Whitey. It is engrossing and engaging throughout and never overwhelming like Cooper's Out of the Furnace cinematography was. Every component to this film screams for perfection and with a director like Scott Cooper and a cast headed by an Oscar worthy Johnny Depp, the film gets just that...perfection.
  • Black Mass is a waste of your time and money. DO NOT see this. The number of well-known actors used in this film is a damn shame because every single role is such a cardboard cutout that any lesser-known actor wouldn't have made a difference. Depp plays "Whitey" Bulger, and to constantly remind the audience that he's a real bad guy, he gives stone-cold, eye piercing looks, he throws in the necessary run of the mill curses, kills a few unremarkable people throughout and that's it. Don't expect any action or colorful, well-written characters. Yes, this is based off a true story, but, in the context of the film, there is no significance; it doesn't matter--it's been done a ton before and it adds absolutely nothing new or refreshing to the genre. Except for a couple of interesting subplots (which are all quickly brushed off and "resolved" by a single line of dialogue in a following scene), this film has nothing going for it. And it really is a shame; there are hints of a better film that shine through every once in a while during its seemingly forever-feeling run-time, but, that's not to be had. There's not much more to say because this film really doesn't have much going for it. DON'T go to see this--it really is THAT bad.
  • Icy Blue eyes stare at you, their cold, blue gaze promising fear and death with every blink. Who or what do these eyes belong too? None other than the notorious criminal Jimmy Whitey Bulger, one of the most notorious crime lords in history. Okay… so maybe it was Johnny Depp playing the mob legend, but regardless of the source, those eyes sum up the tone of the movie Black Mass. This film kind of snuck under the radar for most, but I'm here to help shed some light on what it beholds. Returning after a three-week hiatus, it's Robbie K with another movie review.

    As the title suggests, Black Mass is a tale that is perhaps one of the darkest movies I've seen in a long time. The visual portrayal of Bulger's rise to power is one without filters, where violence, threats, and death rain in high definition splendor. Unlike older mob movies that resulted to gunfights and quick, clean kills, Black Mass gets its hands dirty with detailed torture and gore painting the silver screen a sickly red. Those with weak constitutions will need to avoid this picture, especially during the instances where Whitey results to other means to deal with the "rats" of Boston. I give props to Scott Cooper and his team for unfolding a portion of the mafia world, but like so many took it a little too far than was necessary. How many random characters being shot in the head does one really need to see to get the message?

    The major component that I felt was the greatest aspect of this movie was the acting. Once more Johnny Depp has impressed me with his talent, temporarily chucking the whimsical and wacky for the dark and dismal. Depp brings a level of unease and terror I never thought possible in both looks (great makeup) and delivery of his lines. Like many of my fellow reviewers have stated, this could indeed be an Oscar worthy role for Depp and while he was the main pillar of this movie there were other supporting actors who need a little praise. Joel Edgerton as the corrupt CIA officer packs a pretty mean punch, oozing with festering greed, as he feigns ignorance for Whitey's services, while trying to cover his hide. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the role of a politician to the T, with the confidence, arrogance, and cheesy grin to sell the crowd. The movie could have been even better if Cumberbatch could have been more integrated in the film, but he made the most of his time. And of course Kevin Bacon uses his familiar tactics , which although not impressive, did help tie the story together.

    Now what about the story? Whitey's tale is very detailed, showing the life changing events that shaped him into the threat he became. Even more detailed is the corrupt deals Whitey makes, and the drama that unfolds with each shot. However, despite all the attention to detail, the tale isn't all that exciting. Black Mass felt more like an upscale documentary, devoid of any movie magic or exciting choreographed scenes. The pace of the movie is slow; at times feeling like it's going nowhere, primarily due to a lack of suspense. Maybe if there had been a rival in his history, or at least some glimmer of hope it could have had a little more thrill to it. The details also make things a bit convoluted as well and hard to follow until they literally state the purpose a few minutes later. What does this boil down to? A need for editing, to not only assist with the clarity, but also keep the depression to an absolute minimum. However, if you are one for the facts and wish to avoid the fluff that Hollywood thrives on, this movie's dynamics will more than entertain you.

    Black Mass certainly has some of the best mobster betrayal seen for some time, capturing the ruthless nature of the Boston underbelly. However, if you can't stomach intense violence, and you are looking for some more exciting twists to a film you need to pick another option. This film has a lot of quality to it, but overall it wasn't the most entertaining or impressive film to grace the silver screen. Being a biography, this movie probably would have been better suited for a TV special on the History channel. My suggestion is to wait for this one to come to Redbox to watch in the comfort of your own home, unless of course you are an avid mob movie fan, or Depp enthusiast.

    My scores are: Biography/Crime/Drama: 8.0 Movie Overall: 6.5
  • I'm giving this a 10 as it did everything a movie should: kept me entertained and watching till the end.

    Yes it seems to be a love it or hate it movie in terms of reviews, but in my opinion it is likely another case of something STYLIZED coming across Clichéd in the mind of the average consumer.

    Or maybe you just need to be an oddball yourself to appreciate the characters.

    It may not be a constantly hilarious movie (it's not just a comedy after all), but regardless i found it funny and entertaining, with a good plot and a few memorable scenes.

    (Disclaimer: Im not your average movie viewer. I hate all "emotional journeys", no movie has ever "changed my life", I would rather kick a toaster down the street than watch a "drama", i consider 99% of movies to be trash and all i'm ever looking for is some entertainment. The expectations i go into every movie with is that I will stop watching within 10 minutes to an hour).
  • Black Mass was such a boring movie. There, I said it..

    Not only was it boring, but it was also confusing at several points which made it nearly impossible to enjoy while watching it for the first (and only) time. It isn't completely impossible, but there were far too many pieces missing throughout.

    I checked my watch an hour in and dreaded the fact that I still had another hour to sit through.

    Excessive swearing and random killing is all this movie was. Were the performances outstanding? Hardly. And this surprised me considering all of the positive reviews and famous names of people who were in it.

    In the end you're left with an overrated crime based "drama" movie that isn't worth watching and full of regret wishing you had bought that dessert rather than sitting through over 2 hours of whatever the hell that was. I was very disappointed.
  • First of all, I had NEVER heard of this movie. It's just by chance that I got to know about it when I had ordered a DVD of the crime-action flick THE DEPARTED and instead got a box set containing both the movies. I had really enjoyed THE DEPARTED and thus I had no choice but to watch BLACK MASS since I had got it along with it. I had spent my money, I had to deal with it.

    Now comes another curious case. I took me three attempts to finish this movie. At first, I watched the first 27 minutes and turned it off. Weeks later, which was yesterday, I decided to give it a watch. I watched till the 43rd minute and then again turned it off. After a few hours, I became determined to finish this movie at once. It turned out to be fine since the second half did improve a bit. BLACK MASS didn't really get me involved until an hour was already gone. There were good moments in the first half as well, but they were just very, very few.

    Thankfully, Johnny Depp's performance is great as James 'Whitey' Bulger. He has sunken his teeth into the character and has come up with a strong performance. The film had got my attention right when I found out it had Benedict Cumberbatch in it. He has done a great job, but unfortunately, his character doesn't get much scope and that's true. Joel Edgerton is decent.

    What works in favor of BLACK MASS is Depp's fine performance, some brief yet decent action bits, a few dramatic moments and the ending score.

    What doesn't work in its favor is the unfocused screenplay, poor editing, underdeveloped characters (which is a surprise since this is a crime drama which devotes almost every bit of it to nothing but its characters) and a patience-testing first half.

    BLACK MASS isn't in totality a bad movie, but it's just not the kind I'll prefer watching anymore. Except for a few moments, there are no thrills or exciting moments which made THE DEPARTED engaging. BLACK MASS is everything but not engaging. The film's only high moment is only during the climax even though the things feel wrapped up a bit shoddily but still nicely. It did make me keep checking how much time had elapsed, whenever I found the scenes longer or boring.

    Perhaps it's due to my seeing the film in parts that I'm not completely exhausted. BLACK MASS is a very standard gangster film meant strictly for the fans of crime dramas as well as Johnny Depp. Rest others, see for yourself. As for me... the DVD is just going to be... there in the collection, although I doubt I'd ever want to see it again.
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