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Black Mass

Johnny Depp plays Jim “Whitey” Bulger, head of the Irish Mafia who became an informant for the FBI through the plans of his childhood friend and FBI agent John (played by Joel Edgerton). The film starts just before Bulger becomes an informant, and the story of that collaboration is the focus of the movie. I thought the film overall was a bit of a miss. I thought Johnny Depp gave a tremendous and really creepy (especially in the latter half of the movie) performance, and his was really the strongest of the movie. I enjoyed the story – I knew a little bit about Bulger, but the story helped fill in many of the details of how he became and informant and committed some of his worst crimes during that period. The film could have done a much better job of providing more of the context early on that set the stage for the collaboration; I found myself trying too hard to connect all of the people and events together (some seemed rather random). And, there were so many F-bombs that I started to think that the movie was one big stereotype about how gangsters are supposed to talk – it started to feel disconnected from reality for me. I don’t think the movie really got interesting until the last 45 minutes or so. So, I give the movie a very modest thumbs-up; this is mostly for the story and Depp’s performance and not for the way the movie itself was constructed. For consideration: I have a high tolerance level for foul language, and this movie just about maxed that for me. There are some violent scenes that I did not think worked very well and seemed rather gratuitous.

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