Saturday, September 26, 2015

Movie Review: Black Mass – One Brutal Movie

How many times can Jonny Depp blow somebody's brains out in one damn flick?  Based on the exploits of James "Whitey" Bulger in Boston from the mid-70's thru the mid-80's, we see him manipulate and brutalize his way to the top of the crime heap.  What makes this story stand out is how several FBI agents were being manipulated as well.  Who watches the watchmen?  In this case, the watchers were asleep at the switch.

So that's the story, how's the movie?  Very well done is how.  Depp is back in top form as Bulger, and the supporting cast is outstanding.  Plemons is particularly effective as young thug Weeks.  You can just believe that this guy spend a childhood trading punches with the neighborhood bullies, then naturally progressed into crime on reaching adulthood.  After that... there are no slouches in the casting.  The cinematography is good, as well as unobtrusive.  The ugliness of crime is portrayed unflinchingly.

Speaking of crime... there is remarkably little time spent on the Winter Hill Gang's money making ventures in this film.  Far more time is spent on the inter-gang warfare and machinations within the FBI.  So, if anything, that part doesn't feel fleshed out.  Oh well, it's probably just boring business details anyway.  Back to the on-screen murders...  

Bottom line: 3 stars out of 4.  If not a true documentary, if not a great crime film for the ages, it is at very least an engaging depiction of gang warfare and and several FBI agents who let an investigation get the better of their moral compasses.

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