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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: Johnny Depp goes method madness again as he’s terrifyingly transformed into psychotic South Boston gang-lord/FBI most-wanted fugitive Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger in BLACK MASS.This “true story” of his crime career also features Benedict “Sherlock” Cumberbatch as Whitey’s younger brother/State Senate President Billy Bulger and Joel “Ramses” Edgerton as corrupt FBI agent/Whitey pal John Connolly.
Screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerald O’Neill. Directed by J. Scott Cooper.
- If Depp doesn’t get an Oscar nommy for this, the game is definitely fixed. All the idiots who said his career was over because they didn’t like his funnier stuff or fantasy films should be eating mass quantities of black bird. He’s creepy-scary good as Bulger.
- Most of the rest of the cast is just as good/believable.
- Great set design as you really felt drawn into the story and location(s).
- Fascinating story of a local US gangster’s rise to power and the FBI’s willingness to put and keep him there.
- If you like guns and realistic mob violence like bloody beatings and brutal cold-blooded murders, you should go gaga here. (See “cons” below.)
- If you just like good mob movies, this one will be on the top-ten list for sure. (Top five for those not involving Italian mob bosses.)
- Story covered a lot of ground and there were quite a few characters and such to keep track of, but the plot was still okay to follow and will keep you interested.
- As if anyone needed more reason to hate the New England Patriots (originally the Boston Patriots), here we are! The city has been full of cheaters and corruption for decades, and while it’s not mentioned in the film, I’ll bet anything that Bulger’s favorite NFL team was The Cheaters. Probably a Brady fan too, deflated balls and all.
- You know my rant by now about the “B and B ratio” (blood an’ bullets vs. boobs an’ butts). For all the violence and murder, we shoulda got a ton more nudity. I think there may have been a flash or two, but I honestly don’t even remember from all the brutality!
- Speaking of which, in addition to the usual graphic gunshots to the head and mob beatings, there are a couple onscreen strangulations that are hard to watch/listen to. (Whitey was obviously a sick mofo—snapping a neck is a lot quicker and quieter than strangling, so the only reason fer squeezin’ is pure sicko.)
- Whitey submitted to the CIA’s infamous MKUltra program where they gave him LSD to study its effects; but many if not most of the participants were unwillingly and unknowingly a part of it. Between that and the FBI’s corruption on display with Connolly and company here, it’s no wonder nobody trusts the US government…and downright hates it!
- Not a lot of humor either. Even Goodfellas and Casino were funnier.
- Cumberbatch looks as believable a brother of Depp’s Bulger as Michael B. Jordan does as a brother of Kate Mara.
- Since it’s based on a true story, there’s the usual downsides: 1) a lot of interesting/important stuff is left out for time/story reasons, and 2) ending ain’t super happy. (Justice can often take a looooong friggin’ time!)
Very intense and a must-see for various reasons. Should be a candidate for Best Pic at one or more major award shows. But unless you get off on the guns and gore, or are in the makeup biz and want to study how well Depp was transformed, you’re better off waiting to see it at home, where you can at least take a break from the intensity or pause and study certain scenes. You may not believe it’s the same actor who was in Mordecai!
P.S.: Creepy, cool, sexy, super…That Pascale guy really does draw some decent stuff to hang on yer wall or give to someone who digs the art stuff. Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The (racist and sexist) opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, South Boston, Irish or Italian gangs, the NFL, the New England Patriots, Bill Bellidick, Tom Cheater or Johnny Depp’s agent. Bru didn’t see Mordecai yet, but that doesn’t stop him from making fun of stuff. Or practicing that annoying Southie accent!