Released on September 18, 2015, Black Mass is based on the life of one of the most notorious criminal kingpins that America had ever seen, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger. Directed by Scott Cooper, the movie picks up its story from the book written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill called Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob. Superstars like Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch and Joel Edgerton, among others, make up the high profile cast of the movie.
At the beginning, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger is shown to be a leader of the small time Winter Hill Gang. Though, he has a good hold over the organized crime in Boston, he does face tough competition from the Italian mafia. Black Mass throws light on the unholy alliance that was established between Whitey and the FBI to take down their common enemy – the Italian mafia. Interestingly enough Whitey also has a powerful brother, a senator no less, William ‘Billy’ Bulger and his handler, the FBI Agent, John Connolly, who is also his childhood friend. Though the arrangement does help in curbing the activities of the Italian mafia, it also gives rise to the dominance of the Irish mob. The complete blind eye of the FBI towards the crimes committed by Whitey and the protection that he had due to his connections in high places make him untouchable. This goes on for over a decade and it does become apparent that it is not the FBI that is in control, but Whitey. He is manipulating the Bureau to build his own empire.
After years of unhindered savagery, shrewd games and what not the unholy alliance comes to an end with the arrest of Whitey and all the others involved. The height of Whitey’s notoriety can be gauged from the fact that he was only second to Osama Bin Laden on the list of the most wanted criminals by the US, yet nobody knew about him because he wanted to keep it that way.
The movie is not short on talent which does deliver. For years, Johnny Depp fans have been waiting to see him in a role where he could really portray his acting skills and this movie gave him the chance to do exactly the same. He is completely believable as Whitey. In fact, it will be hard for you to find Johnny Depp in there. He carries most of this story and does put through the dark, manipulative and intimidating character of a criminal kingpin. Joe Edgerton, who has portrayed the role of the FBI Agent, John Connolly is completely on point too with the accent and general body language. He does complete justice to the role too. Benedict Cumberbatch has only a brief role but it is notable and he does leave his mark. The supporting cast has also performed well and the movie aces in the acting department.
Black Mass does not really have a hero, but a couple of anti-heroes that run the show. There is corruption, murder, mayhem and realizing that it all happened for real will keep the viewers glued. This is the very reason that the movie cannot be compared to legendary mafia movies like the Godfather and Goodfellas. It is in a league of its own and it is definitely worth a watch.