Despite the fact that today is Thursday and not yet the weekend, I still wanted to contribute to the opening numbers with my [not so] measly $11.50. The showing was sold out and the atmosphere in the theater was excited as the lights went down at the Alamo Drafthouse on 6th Street.
Black Mass, directed by Scott Cooper, is the story of James “Whitey” Bulger and features an all star cast the likes of which haven’t been seen in a mafia movie set in Boston since, well, The Departed in 2006. Where the Scorsese flick alludes to a Bulger type figure in Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of well established mob boss “Frank Costello,” Black Mass is the telling of the events that lead to Bulger’s rise to power in the Boston area known as Southie.
Bulger, played by Johnny Depp, is an incredibly chilling figure who is not to be trifled with. Even before he becomes the towering figure that history now knows him as. His crystal blue eyes pierce you even as an audience member. The mannerisms adopted by Depp are truly telling and as the movie progresses, you are able to tell when Whitey is about to do something “bad.” I believe that this performance is what will bring Depp back into awesomeness and out of his Burton spiral.
But I digress.
John Connolly’s (Joel Edgerton) task force at the FBI is cracking down on the mafia presence in Boston in the late 80’s and in so doing decides to make an “alliance” with his friend from the old neighborhood, Bulger, who has juicy information on the “Italians.” A group of people who are more talked about than shown on screen. What could go wrong? Connolly gets in waaaaay too deep and his blind eye towards Bulger and the mobster’s curiously clean slate begins to raise some eyebrows with the higher ups. Murder and mayhem ensue. I lost track of the body count. After a while however, the plot became so transparent that it was almost irritating. Whenever a problem arose Bulger’s first and only solution was murder. These actions are what makes him a great psychopath but not a good main character and it is because of this that the movie was so predictable. The story itself is told as Bulger’s posse (all rounded up and jailed) divulge their secrets about their finished leader. They are aged out and defeated. The movie ends with stills detailing all of their sentences. (A cop out technique as bad as narrating in my book.)
As a whole the movie was just okay. Definitely not the be all end all that the previews made it out to be. I give it a 3.9 out of 5. The pacing was good and the writing was fantastic (quite a few really funny moments) but the score was incredibly cheese and the plot was transparent in a not so good way. Plus, points way off for Benedict Cumberbatch’s atrocious attempt at a Boston accent.