Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Film Review: "Black Mass" (2015).

"Based on the true story of one of the most notorious gangsters in U.S. history."
This is the story that is explored in Black Mass. This crime film directed by Scott Cooper and written by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, based on the 2001 book Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill. The film follows the true story of James 'Whitey' Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

James Joseph 'Whitey' Bulger, Jr. is an Irish-American convicted murderer and a former organized crime boss of the Boston Irish Mob crew known as the Winter Hill Gang. Bulger was indicted for 19 murders based on grand jury testimonies from Bulger's former associates. Bulger served as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1975 to 1994. As a result, the Bureau largely ignored his organization in exchange for information about the inner workings of the Winter Hill Gang's rivals, the Italian American Patriarca crime family. In 1993, the New England media exposed criminal actions by federal, state, and local law enforcement officials tied to Bulger. Bulger then fled Boston and went into hiding on December 23, 1994, after being tipped off by his former FBI handler about a pending indictment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). For 16 years, he remained at large. For 12 of those years, Bulger was on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. But in 2011 Bulger was arrested, the $2 million reward the FBI offered for information leading to his capture was larger than that for any other fugitive on the list except Osama bin Laden. Bulger had been living under the alias Charlie Gasko. According to FBI agent Scott Gareola, Bulger immediately put his hands in the air. When he was ordered to get on his knees, Bulger replied, "I ain't getting down on my f---ing knees." He was wearing white pants, and reportedly didn't want to dirty them on the oil-stained garage floor.

The film has an ensemble cast starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Rory Cochrane, Adam Scott, Dakota Johnson, and Corey Stoll. The cast gave stellar performances, especially to Depp who gave a magnetic performance. Probably his most mesmerising and best performance in years. The performance Depp gives is something else. For once an actor playing a gangster does not seem to base his performance on movies he has seen. He starts cold and stays cold. He plays Bulger with conviction.

Featuring outstanding work from an excellent cast, especially Johnny Depp, Black Mass is an engrossing gangster drama with the gritty authenticity and soupy morality. However, at times, there are elements that seem borrowed from movies like Goodfellas (1990), The Departed (2007) and Public Enemies (2009), which makes the film feel pretty much like a "been-there-done-that" movie.

Simon says Black Mass receives:

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