Black Mass (15)

Black Mass tells the true story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, one of the most notorious criminals in South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family.

Ruthless Irish-American mobster Whitey (Johnny Depp) leads the Winter Hill Gang and controls the means streets of South Boston. However the Anguilo family from the North of town have their sights set on Whitey’s turf. When the rival gang start to muscle in on the mobster’s territory they start a rampaging war. A war that can only be settled one of two ways, kill or be killed.

But when Whitey is tipped off that the FBI have some solid evidence against him, he sees a unique opportunity. His childhood friend, FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) comes up with a solution to benefit both men.

In exchange for intel on the Anguilo family the FBI promise to provide Whitey with immunity. The catch 22 is that if anyone finds out about his little arrangement with the feds, the gang leader is a dead man. By giving Whitey immunity the FBI helps to create an unstoppable killing machine.

Far too aware of his worth to the feds Whitey runs around Boston carry out merciless acts knowing that there won’t be any consequence to his actions. Even his powerful senator brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) turns a blind eye to the stupendous amount of crimes the Winter Hill gang are carrying out. In his world you do exactly what he says, or you get killed. Whitey even goes as far as to offer his support to the IRA, showing that his power and influence can easily cross the continent.

The FBI are so desperate to take down the Mafia in Boston that they’re willing to ignore Whitey’s crimes…but for how long?

In a bid to take down the Anguilo’s Connolly has sold his soul to the devil and no-one and nothing will make him turn back now. He’s willing to risk it all for the sake of loyalty. His marriage, his job, even his life, all to protect Whitey. He’s as loyal as they come and it’s sure to be his downfall. Connolly has become embroiled in their world, keeping the gang one step of the feds.

The case stinks of corruption and his fellow agents are slowly catching on. It’s only a matter of time before the whole plot unravels. Will Connolly remain loyal to those who grew up in Southy when it comes down to it?

Black Mass is violent and gory. It’s just as gritty as it needs to be. However Depp looks like Tom Cruise in Interview with The Vampire because of his coloured contacts and near-translucent skin. To say it’s distracting would be an understatement. Cumberbatch plays his part well but his accent comes and goes and it makes you question the authenticity of their relationship. Again another detail that redirects your attention from the main show.

Dakota Fanning and Julianne Nicholson play their parts well. Helping to portray the anguish of being married to power-hungry men. Men that will risk everything to get what they want. House of Cards and Ant-Man’s Corey Stroll may have only had a short appearance in the movie but it was a notable one. Meanwhile it was hard to take Parks and Recreation’s Adam Scott seriously with that porn star moustache.

That being said director Scott Cooper has created a gripping movie that boasts some outstanding performance from its strong cast. The compelling true story of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang has been brought to life in a specular fashion and the result is an engrossing crime-thriller.

Black Mass is due to be released in the UK on 25th November.

By Ruth Walker
★★★★☆

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