Black Mass: Our Thoughts


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Black Mass is the true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

Cleetus’ Review

Black Mass is the unbelievable true story about Whitey Bulger (played by Johnny Depp) and his reign as a drug kingpin and how he used an FBI informant to avoid being caught. Now, I’ve gotta say I didn’t really know anything about Whitey Bulger up until this movie. I’m from Boston and people always expect me to know about Whitey Bulger and they seem shocked that I don’t know anything about him. They’re like oh yeah during the seventies and eighties he ruled South Boston and the North End. I’ve never really been to those places of Boston. I think I’ve driven through Southie once and it was very scary from my recollection.

Now, Whitey Bulger was a bad fucking guy. And I’m not just talking about he’s a little rough around the edges. No, he’s just pure evil maybe since the day he was born. 100% criminal. A complete psychopath of the worst kind who will not hesitate to kill someone who disagrees with him. I get upset too sometimes when I get in disagreements, but even my ego isn’t so large that I would shoot someone in the head because they stood in my way. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t even that they stood in his way, it was that he was just done with them. Whitey had used them for what he needed and then got rid of them because he thought they’d be a loose-end. He’s like an alligator in the wild who will ravagely eat someone just to satisfy his appetite. You could be a hippo in the water and say, ‘Hey Mr. Alligator, I have a family who cares for me, I’ve got kids back home, I’m just trying to get back to my newborn baby. So please just let me go home, I’m not here to harm you.’ And the alligator will just be like, ‘I don’t care, I’m hungry right now and you’re food to me.’ Just no sympathy what so ever for anyone who won’t regret eating the hippo at all. That is Whitey Bulger we see in Black Mass. A wild animal who will stop at nothing to get his way. Now he really got out of control after his son died from Reye’s syndrome, a serious condition that causes swelling in the liver and the brain. His mother died shortly after and I really think that those were the only two people he ever really cared about and didn’t view as replaceable. And I think he was so adamant on having power that because he couldn’t heal his son and take him home that he was driven to have control over every single aspect of his life.

Now I’ve heard of friends having each other’s backs and brothers having each other’s backs. But, there is nothing compared to growing up in the inner city with your childhood friends. The bond that Whitey and John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton) have is really to death do us part. John Connolly works in the Boston police department and had been tipping Whitey off as to what the police were doing to give Whitey a step ahead. Another thing I underestimated was how corrupt the Boston police are! I mean cash gets you out of any criminal charges. Whitey pays off everybody who hunts him down. They get a sniff of him and when they get just close enough to arrest him, he pays them off to act like nothing happened. He vanishes into a ghost and apparently no one in the police department cares about justice. I thought that’s supposed to be why you become an officer. To serve justice and protect citizens. I hate to say it but I’m not so sure things have changed today in America.

What I never understood about guys like Bulger or even Hitler is that who’s to stop one of their lackeys from shooting them in the head? Honestly, if someone just shot them point black wouldn’t a lot of the regions problems been resolved? Their tyranny would be over and less people’s lives would be in jeopardy. Besides, sure the money’s good but you can’t help but notice how Whitey kills every one of his henchmen as soon as he’s done with them. Money’s no good if you’re dead.

In the end, everyone gets caught. Well, I don’t know if you’d count Whitey considering he didn’t get caught until about fifteen years later than everyone else did. John Connolly was sentenced to forty years in jail and several other henchmen were serving lesser sentences. I’m surprised that when they eventually caught Whitey Bulger in 2011 that they only charged him with eleven murders. I’m pretty sure he’s killed many more than that let alone all the illegal drug activity he’s committed. Maybe there’s a statute of limitations on those things, but I don’t know. How he was able to dodge authorities for fifteen years as one of the FBI’s most wanted is pretty astounding. I saw a 60 Minutes episode on him and he payed people who looked like him at the time for their license and would pay them to renew the license. He went to Santa Barbara, California where there’s plenty of old people drifting around for him to pay for their identity.

Overall, I really liked the movie. I really had no knowledge of the story what so ever and was certainly entertained. Johnny Depp was outstanding as Whitey Bulger. They made him look like a terrifying guy with eyes like a reptile and a haunting grin, it wasn’t too long either, about two hours. It reminded me of The Departed a bit. It certainly was very well acted and flowed pretty well.

8.0/10

Very Good

Bishop’s Take

Leaving the theater I thought to myself “was this a movie about Whitey Bulger? Or was this a movie about John Connolly?” In all seriousness everyone is talking about how this could finally be Johnny Depp’s breakout dramatic performance as a lead actor but I’m still not sure who’s really the lead actor… Is it Johnny or is it Joel Edgerton?

Black Mass was a well written movie that (if truthful) was very informative. As a Boston-area native who grew up really just as Whitey went on the lamb it was interesting to learn so much about this crooked city’s past. I had heard obviously of Whitey Bulger but I never knew that he was actually a serious force (as Black Mass seems to indicate), I also had no idea that the FBI was so complicate with these heinous crimes that Whitey committed throughout Boston. This FBI tie-in is why I’m not really sure what this story is about. The main character might be Whitey, but the movie really seemed to focus on John Connolly and the FBI, Whitey’s character was not very dynamic – they kept saying Whitey was playing the FBI (and that was probably true) but the movie focused so much on John Connolly defending Whitey and the FBI (and DEA and District Attorney) trying to figure out how to solve the situation they created.

I’m sure plenty of Bostonians look at all the shitty run-down architecture with fond memories (maybe memories is the wrong term since the shitty run-down architecture is still where it was when the movie took place) but I look at it and cringe. I don’t think I’ve seen one Boston movie actually make this place look good, the most unfortunate part is that they aren’t lying… What you’ve seen in movies… is every bit as true as real life. The people here do talk like that (they sound like uneducated, unpolished, morons) and they embrace the hilarious quirks that this city has, a public transit system that’s second only to India, roads with potholes the size of smart cars, and all around generally terrible (non-existent) city planning. I should never watch any movies that take place in Boston because all it does is make me angry I still live near it.

When I say Whitey wasn’t so dynamic in the movie it’s because he didn’t really change, from the very start of the movie we knew something was off. He flew off the handle ridiculously easy, irrationally angry and stuff a normal person wouldn’t fret. From the start of the FBI “alliance” Whitey said he was playing them, that never changed and the viewer was never once made to think otherwise. They alluded to the fact that Whitey’s kid and mother dying really changed who he was, they said it made him angrier and less rational but they didn’t really show it… Like I said, he was angry and irrational from the start of the film.

Johnny Depp did a very good job getting in to character, like I said I don’t know much of Whitey and never have heard or seen him speak so I have no idea if Depp’s portrayal is way off, but I will say that it was very easy to forget you were watching Johnny Depp, he played a VERY convincing violent, paranoid, and borderline insane character, I really didn’t see much of Depp in his Whitey character, which is a great thing to be able to forget you’re watching an actor play a part.

Though the acting was solid (for all parts I thought), I did find Black Mass a bit boring. They kept the movie to 2 hours running time but even at that I found myself yawning a couple times. There weren’t any parts where I thought to myself “Oh come on, that’s stupid” and like I said before, the acting was great but the movie was still a bit boring to me and probably won’t merit a second watch. I’ve heard multiple opinions on the movie and most have said that it was very good and entertaining so perhaps my “boring” tag is unfounded, luckily it’s my opinion so I can still say it.

There is plenty more to talk about with Black Mass, I think Cleetus touched on much of it so I won’t drag on. Bottom-line, the acting was top-notch all around but the movie was a bit boring.

6.5/10

It was ok