The FBI, The Mafia, The IRA, and the cops. The story of James “Whitey” Bulger is so crazy, you just couldn’t make it up. Thankfully, the creators of Black Mass didn’t have to. It’s all true and its all fascinating. Black Mass, however, is not just your standard real life gangster depiction movie. It offers much more than that and this is what makes it so great.
There can be no doubts that the key focus of this film is Johnny Depp and his portrayal of the infamous James “Whitey” Bulger. What makes this film so great, however, and so different is that the focus isn’t just all on Bulger. Joel Edgerton and his portrayal of FBI agent John Connolly comes very close to stealing the whole show. Connolly’s blind loyalty to Bulger and how it leads to his downfall is simply facinating to watch. The fact that this all actually happened makes it all the more compelling and even quite sad.
The tone and style of the film is also something that stands out greatly. You won’t see any stylistic Goodfella’s type shots here. This film is dark and gritty and this is perfect for the realism it is trying to convey. This just adds to the tension in those moments when you know Bulger is going to strike on his unsuspecting prey. The film makes you feel like no-one in his circle is safe and Depp’s look and performance simply add to this terror.
What I like about this film is there’s no-one to cheer for here. This film isn’t trying to portray anyone in a good light or a bad light. There is no agenda. It is simply telling us the fascinating story of what happened in the life of James “Whitey” Bulger. There are no heroes here and the line between good and evil has never been so blurred. I didn’t come away liking any particular character. I was just compelled as to what was going to happen next and this is exactly what a film like this should be.