Black Mass (2015) Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
2 Min Read

Black Mass isn’t a docudrama, nor is it a “gangster” film; and, as a straightforward drama it just isn’t all that strong.

Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger is a man you did not want to cross.  As the notorious head of the Winter Hill gang from Boston's South side, he was responsible for numerous murders and controlled the drug and racketeering trade in the area.  He was also allegedly an informant for the FBI for 20 years, handled by his childhood friend, John Connolly.

Black Mass, the best selling novel turned movie, details those turbulent years when Bulger gave information to the FBI in order for them to bring down the Italian Mafia in Boston, while conveniently turning a "blind eye" to Bulger's operation.    Ultimately, the FBI realized they were being played and honed in to bring down Bulger and his confidantes.

With an all-star cast, Black Mass shows signs of promise.  Unfortunately, the script and the direction don't live up to the potential.  Johnny Depp (Pirates of The Caribbean) transforms into the sociopath, Bulger, with a performance that might get him an Academy nomination (though I don't think he would win).  He attempts to make Bulger human by occasionally showing a softer side, but it isn't very convincing, and his shining moments in the movie come when Bulger is most evil and conniving.  Benjamin Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) portrays Bulger's good guy brother, Senator William Bulger and Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) is solid at FBI agent Connolly.

Supporting cast members Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey), Kevin Bacon (The Following), Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Rory Cochrane (CSI:Miami) and Peter Sarsgaard (The Green Lantern) only add to the excellent performances.  Johnson is better than her weepy portrayal of Anastasia Steele and Cochran and Bacon play the stereotypical 1970's FBI Agents to a tee.

The problem with the film is the pace.  It is entirely too slow and drags at points that should be suspenseful, tense and exciting.  Although I know I was watching a fictional drama based on real life events, I feel I would have enjoyed the movie more had I been watching a documentary about Bulger on The History Channel.  Perhaps I should have watched the movie as a pure drama and forgotten the fact that it is based on real life events.

The sets and costumes are spot on and give the film an authenticity that is excellent and enhances the overall feel of the picture.  Along with the actors, they are some of the bright spots, but, in the end, neither can salvage the work. 

Don't get me wrong, it isn't horrible and I've seen far worse, but I was hoping for more and, in the end, I was disappointed.  Black Mass isn't a docudrama, nor is it a "gangster" film; and, as a straightforward drama it just isn't all that strong. 

Grade: C+


Stream from Amazon Prime
Watch
Watch / Stream on Hulu
Watch
Watch
Watch
Stream on Vudu / Fandango
Watch

For more information about Black Mass visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. This release has been provided to FlickDirect for review purposes. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Black Mass images are courtesy of Warner Bros.. All Rights Reserved.


FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


Read More Black Mass Reviews

Physical Media: Blu-ray Review
As usual, Johnny Depp gives his all to his performance. At no time through the film did it feel like Johnny Depp was on screen, his persona and performance echo his character, James “Whitey” Bolger, through the entire run-time.
Full Review | Grade: C


SPONSORED LINKS

Today's Digital HD DealsView All

Million Dollar Baby
Million Dollar Baby
WAS: $14.99
NOW: $12.99
Bob Marley: One Love
Bob Marley: One Love
WAS: $19.99
NOW: $9.99
A Perfect Murder
A Perfect Murder
WAS: $14.99
NOW: $12.99


Latest ReviewsView All

The Garfield Movie
Movie / Film Review
May 23, 2024 EST
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga
Movie / Film Review
May 22, 2024 EST
The Crow Steelbook
Physical Media: 4K UHD Review
May 06, 2024 EST