Black Mass: Movie Review

"Black Mass" had us reeling with disgust, hatred and mostly fear from its protagonist, Whitey Bulger. Anchoring on one of Johnny Depp's best performances yet, the film effectively shows us the stark reality of how cruel Whitey was back in the day. But with material as great as Bulger, "Black Mass" shockingly fails to make a compelling story on his rise and fall. Minus the gore and violence, "Black Mass" feels like a huge disappointment.

In the 1970s, a deal between ruthless Irish-American gangster James "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) and FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) enabled Bulger to expand his criminal empire with complete impunity. Bulger now considered as an FBI informant shielded him from any investigation. While Connolly was rising through the FBI ranks by taking on the New York Mafia, Whitey Bulger was making a different kind of name for himself back home - becoming one of the most feared crime lords in Boston.

Being frightened is one emotion we never anticipated getting from "Black Mass" but it is the one emotion that encapsulates what the film did effectively. Depp as Bulger was so great and so potent that we really felt awkward even frightened whenever Bulger was on screen. You never know what he has on his mind, and his psychopathic tendencies, meant that anyone can get brutally killed anytime, anywhere. In this regard, we give "Black Mass" huge props. Not only with Depp's noteworthy acting but that there's no sugar-coating involved when it came to telling what happened. Bulger doesn't have to have a good side - he's a freaking bad person - and that's what we get from the film. But what disappointed us though is pretty much the story. We do get the basics of how Bulger rose and eventually fell but it never feels compelling or complete. It also fails to be a cohesive whole. Unfortunately, as much as "Black Mass" was great in its violence, it never could sum up to something great. The film is not bad per se but it never develops to something great either.

Rating: 3 reels

Why you should watch it:
- One of Depp's best yet
- Bulger is frightening
- violence and gore feel realistic

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the story was a huge letdown
Photos courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

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