Film review: Black Mass

We all know him as “Whitey Bulger,” Boston’s most notorious crime boss, but to his friends and the rest of the city’s South Side neighborhood, he was just Jimmy. Being his friend, however, required absolute loyalty and dedication, as even a drunken insult delivered in the wrong place and at the wrong time could have fatal consequences for the inebriated fool who crosses the line.

Scott Cooper’s Black Mass traces Jimmy’s life from 40-something father (of a boy named Douglas, whose untimely passage sparks a rush to violence) to 50-something godfather (of the city’s drug trade). Johnny Depp, here with piercing pale-gray eyes and hair slicked back, takes up the lead role with dramatic seriousness we haven’t seen from him in a very long time and imbues his character with a calmness that is menacing to the point of being terrifying. In one of the film’s key scenes, by stroking the face of an acquaintance’s wife, he causes her to dissolve into tears out of fear for her life. That is the kind of man we are dealing with.

This character is closer to Vito Corleone than Henry Hill, although without the warmth of former, if you can imagine that. That is not to say Jimmy Bulger is inhuman, as the early scenes with his son and his mother — as well as his brother, to an extent — make his unconditional care for those closest to him very clear. But whosoever stands in his way, or betrays him, should expect a bullet to the head or a noose (or bare hands) around the throat.

To read the full review, visit The Prague Post. Black Mass will premiere in Bulgaria on November 13.

(Still of Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton in Black Mass. Photo by Claire Folger – © 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.)