Black Mass ****

Running time 123 mins Cert: 15

Synopsis: In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster and old acquaintance James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. 

Based on Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill’s book of the same name, the movie follows the true events of Bulger’s two decades as an Informant for the F.B.I. The man himself is an interesting character, even Scorcese used him as a reference for Jack Nicholson’s mobster in “The Departed”.

Director Scott Cooper who previously made the slow burning ‘Crazy Heart’ and the intriguing ‘Out of the Furnace’ shows Bulger as a sensitive, likeable, human being , but violent delusions of frequent paranoia.  

He also makes a great decision only to focus on the informant years rather being a full on biopic as this is the most interesting period of Bulger’s life. Although the movie does feel like only part of the story is being told, especially with the events took place after the film.  He has also brought one of the greatest actors back from fantastical roles which have been relentless in the past few years. 

Johnny Depp reminds the audience of how good he used to be. From the very first scene he disappears completely into the role with convincing age makeup and  filtered lens giving him a dangerous, murderous sociopathic look. There is not a hint of weird quirkiness in his performance.

It is not just Depp’s movie though as Joel Edgerton, as the story also centres on the agent who let Bulger get away with running things in Boston his way. Edgerton plays John Connolly  as a naive, but identifiable flawed man.

Both  actors is also supported with a cast of great actors. Rory Cochrane  as Bulger’s  second-in-command, Breaking Bad’s  Jesse Plemons as killer Kevin Weeks’. Ant-Man’s Corey Stoll as a by the book prosecutor, Dakota Johnson as Jimmy’s partner, Adam Scott and Kevin Bacon as  FBI agents and Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s more upstanding congressman brother.

Like Connolly the film is also flawed. The piece appears to have been in look and editing with previous gangster classics ‘Goodfellas’ and ‘The Departed’ But this is forgivable considering the pacing, performances and the overall storytelling.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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