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After a series of box office disappointments, Johnny Depp returns with his finest performance of his career in Black Mass, the story of the rise and fall of Whitey Bulger, Boston’s most notorious gangster. 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 and directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart), this period crime drama is captivating in it’s ruthless storytelling, which grabs you from the very beginning and pulls you closer with each passing scene. Oscar needs to stand up and take notice because Black Mass is the first real contender for this year’s award season.
James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) is a recently released convict and the leader of The Winter Hill Gang and one of the most respect men in South Boston. John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) is an FBI agent who’s recently returned to Boston to head a task force to rid the city of the Italian mob. James and John grew up on the streets of South Boston together and Connelly knows the influence of Bulger. Knowing that the best way to infiltrate organized crime is from the inside, Connelly, along with Whitey’s brother, Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch), a state senator and Boston public figure, strike a deal with Whitey to trade secrets and take down Boston’s Italian Mafia, a deal that would catapult Whitey from small time crime boss to the king of Boston.
Director Scott Cooper, working from a script by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow), tells Bulger and Connelly’s story over a series of decades which culminates in Bulger making the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Each act of the story perfectly illustrates the challenges each character involved in this unholy alliance face leading to life altering situations and decisions that no one can turn back from. Cooper is gifted with an amazing cast lead by the memorizing Depp who turns in an Oscar winning performance. Depp, who is barely recognizable as the godfather of the Irish Mob, is relentless in his commitment to the character and his portrayal is both haunting and meticulous in his execution.
Joel Edgerton embodies the invincibility and arrogance of his character with ease and turns in the performance of a lifetime. Benedict Cumberbatch is limited in his screen time, but he makes the most of every scene by portraying the confidence and calmness of an American politician and brother of a notorious gangster. My one wish for this film would have been for a bit more interaction between Depp and Cumberbatch as both actors were ripe for some great scenes. The rest of the cast, which includes Rory Cochrane, Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, and David Harbour, were outstanding in this supporting roles.
Overall, Black Mass is a fantastic crime drama with plenty of drama and wonderful performances and one that demands to be seen. Don’t miss this film.
4 out of 5
After Credit Scene?
Warner Bros. Pictures has revealed the new Black Mass trailer and we have it for you below!
Three-time Oscar nominee Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Finding Neverland, the Pirates of the Caribbean films) stars as notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger in the drama Black Mass, directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart).
The film also stars Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty) as FBI Agent John Connolly; Oscar nominee Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as Whitey’s brother, powerful State Senator Billy Bulger; Rory Cochrane (Argo) as Steve Flemmi, Whitey’s closest partner in crime; Jesse Plemons (TV’s “Fargo”) as Whitey’s main henchman, Kevin Weeks; and Kevin Bacon (Crazy, Stupid, Love, TV’s “The Following”) as FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles McGuire.
In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster Jimmy Bulger (Depp) to collaborate with the FBI in order to eliminate their common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement while consolidating his power and becoming one of the most ruthless and dangerous gangsters in Boston history.
Cooper directed Black Mass from a screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth, based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. John Lesher, Brian Oliver, Scott Cooper, Patrick McCormick and Tyler Thompson produced the film, with Brett Ratner, James Packer, Peter Mallouk, Ray Mallouk, Christopher Woodrow, Brett Granstaff, Gary Granstaff, Phil Hunt and Compton Ross serving as executive producers.
The film also stars W Earl Brown (Draft Day) as Bulger hit man Johnny Martorano; David Harbour (End of Watch) as FBI Agent John Morris, who is complicit in the deal between Bulger and Connolly; Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey) as Lindsey Cyr, Whitey’s former girlfriend and mother of his only child; Julianne Nicholson (August: Osage County) as John Connolly’s wife, Marianne; Corey Stoll (Ant-Man) as federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak; Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine) as Brian Halloran; Adam Scott (NBC’s “Parks and Recreation”) as FBI Agent Robert Fitzpatrick; and Juno Temple (Maleficent) as Flemmi’s young mistress, who is also his own stepdaughter, Deborah Hussey.
The behind-the-scenes creative team was led by director of photography Masanobu Takayanagi (Silver Linings Playbook, Out of the Furnace), production designer Stefania Cella (The Great Beauty), Oscar-nominated editor David Rosenbloom (The Insider), and costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone (Foxcatcher).
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Cross Creek Pictures and RatPac-Dune Entertainment, a Cross Creek Pictures Production in association with Le Grisbi Productions, Free State Pictures and Head Gear Films, a Scott Cooper Film.
Black Mass hits theaters worldwide beginning September 18, 2015, the film will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.
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