As you can probably see, I’ve been trying to at least watch one movie a week. There are those rare occasions when I get to watch more than one, shocking I know, but if I stick to at least one I’m a happy camper. This week’s move of choice, thanks to HBO, was Black Mass. I’ve been waiting to see this one and I finally did. Keep reading to see if it lived up to my expectations.
Black Mass centers around the true story of infamous gangster James “Whitey” Bulger and his descent into absolute madness. This isn’t saying that he wasn’t crazy before the events that are shown in the movie, but there are two major events that make him basically spiral out of control. The story is told through some of the most brutal members of the gang that he runs as they give information to the FBI, each hoping for lesser sentences for the horrible things that they’ve done. When the movie starts off, you see a lighter side of Bulger. Starting in the 1970’s, Bulger is shown as a gangster who really doesn’t like to get his hands dirty all that much and has his muscle do it for him. Even though he does these horrible things, the movie shows that he has a lighter side for his family including of course his mother, his son, and his brother, Bill, the state senator. Coming to the realization that he’s going to use the FBI for his own personal gain since someone he knows now works for the FBI, Bulger makes a deal, insisting that he’s not a rat, to help take down rival gangs so that he can control all of Boston. It takes years, but all of this blows up in his face as he becomes more and more violent and paranoid. Killing just about anyone who looks at him the wrong way, it isn’t long before he’s one of the most wanted criminals on the FBI list.
As far as gangster movies go, and believe me I’ve seen quite a few, this one was pretty decent when you compare it to other greats in the same category such as The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, etc. I mean this list could go on forever, and I always feel that gangster movies, whether or not based on a true story, have a lot to live up to story wise. There has to be some depth to them and while this movie does have these moments, they’re aren’t really all that many. As the story skips through time every so often, you see an even more hardened Bulger each time which leads to more and more killings. By the end of the movie it seems like that’s all there is. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it does get a little boring after a while if there’s no bigger story behind it.
While Johnny Depp is the star of the movie, he plays Whitey Bulger, the movie doesn’t solely rest upon his shoulders to carry. The supporting cast also plays a major role in the movie as you try to see the relationship that each of them have with Bulger and how it all comes back to bite them in the ass in the end. From hit men, to corrupt FBI agents, to state senators, this movie has it all and all roles were played beautifully. Even though at times this movie was just eh, it did have some good acting that made up for those slower times in the movie.
Overall I give this movie a 3.5 out of 5.
This movie isn’t going to be for everyone. You have to have a love of gangster movies to actually want to sit down and watch it. This is one of those movies where it’s not about the cast that’s involved in it, it’s about the story itself. So if you’re one of the many ladies who is just in love with Johnny Depp, although I don’t see how you can still have that opinion about him after recent events, I’m not sure this is going to be the movie for you. There are no redeeming qualities of Bulger at all to romanticize him in any way. This is a straight up gangster movie filled with random and sometimes unnecessary gruesome deaths and all of the qualities that gangster movies have. For me, once again this is a one and done movie. I watched it the once, but I won’t be watching it over and over again like I do with my favorite gangster movie which just happens to be Casino.