I’d put off watching Black Mass for a while, despite wanting to see Johnny Depp’s performance, only because gangster movies aren’t my usual go-to movie. I tend to get confused with who’s on what side, and who’s killing who - it’s a mess inside my head sometimes. Anyway, after enjoying Tom Hardy’s Legend, I thought it was about time I gave this a go, too.
Black Mass (2015) is the true story of James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp), the brother of State Senator Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) and leader of the Irish Mob. It covers three periods (1975, 1981 and 1985) with flash-forwards to the present day, where various members of Whitey’s gang recount the stories of his rise and eventual fall.
For the first time ever, I watched The Godfather a few months ago, and whilst I thoroughly enjoyed it, I felt like I wasn’t quite switched on enough to understand everything that was going on. Since watched Legend, and now Black Mass, I realise that’s just the way gangster movies are. It also doesn’t help that I am completely ignorant to history and world affairs, and didn’t know anything about James Bulger until seeing this!
Despite that, I really did enjoy Black Mass. It was so nice to see Johnny Depp play a serious character without a full face of makeup and acting either drunk or high. There’s an amazing actor after all! It made me want to check out some more of Johnny Depp’s older work actually. It was also wonderful to see my Benedict Cumberbatch again, although I don’t think I listened to a single line of dialogue from him as I was too fascinated by his accent!
There are some great names in the cast list but my favourite character was without a doubt John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), the FBI Agent and close friend of James Bulger. I don’t even know what it was about him, but he had a real sense of power about him which turned to despair as the movie went on.
I haven’t seen enough movies similar to Black Mass to give an informed opinion, but one thing I will say is that it was brutal, without the need for glorified violence. It’s very heavy on character development and dialogue which might turn some viewers off, but it’s a fascinating story at the very least.