Black Mass – The DVDfever Cinema Review


Black Mass is a film I was expecting to like a lot more than I did. It’s still good, and it’s worth a watch, but by all accounts I was expecting this to be brilliant. And it isn’t.

The best thing about this true story is, undoubtedly, Johnny Depp as James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, whose tale is told from 1975 to 1995, and told in flashback as we see accomplices and others spilling the beans on Bulger after their arrest.

You can’t make an omlette without breaking eggs, but Bulger’s omlette is made by smashing them with a brick-bat, a dozen at a time. Hence, it can’t be too much surprise when bigger fish want to make an example of him by threatening to bump him off, and word comes down to him from FBI agent and childhood friend John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) that Jerry Angiulo (Bill Haims) wants to do the bumping. But does Connolly have Bulger’s best interests at heart, trying to help keep him alive because he’s his friend or because Jimmy is his informant and can get them information on more organised organisations? And if it’s the latter, is that justified, given that Bulger is far from squeaky clean? Or are the cops just bent in general? (Aren’t they all?!)


Johnny Depp as James ‘Whitey’ Bulger.

One person finding that family ties isn’t always good for business is Bulger’s brother, Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch), a Senator looking to go places. The cast is filled out with Fargo‘s Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon as Connolly’s boss, Peter Sarsgaard and Rory Cochrane taking their places around Bulger’s table, plus Juno Temple, and Ant-Man‘s Corey Stoll as Fred Wyshak, a new broom at the FBI, wanting to get to the bottom of what Bulger’s up to. Oh, and there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance from Fifty Shades Of Grey‘s Dakota Johnson, so why she’s so high up in the cast list, god only knows.

And, thus stirs the melting pot for a two-hour drama with a brilliantly chilling performance from Johnny Depp, with a couple of scenes that match the tense nature of those in Goodfellas, such as one involving Bulger, Maurice and a recipe classed as a family secret that’s very reminiscent of telling Joe Pesci he’s a funny guy in that movie. However, it’s a bit too slow moving overall and, thus, feels rather ‘Goodfellas-lite’.

Black Mass is available to pre-order on Blu-ray and DVD, but the release date has yet to be confirmed. Also, click on the poster for the full-size image.


Joel Edgerton as John Connolly.

Detailed specs:

Running time: 122 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros
Year: 2015
Format: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Panavision)
Released: November 25th 2015
Rating: 7/10

Director: Scott Cooper
Producers: Scott Cooper, John Lesher, Patrick McCormick, Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson
Screenplay: Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth (based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill)
Music: Tom Holkenborg (aka Junkie XL)

James ‘Whitey’ Bulger: Johnny Depp
John Connolly: Joel Edgerton
Billy Bulger: Benedict Cumberbatch
Lindsey Cyr: Dakota Johnson
Charles McGuire: Kevin Bacon
Brian Halloran: Peter Sarsgaard
Kevin Weeks: Jesse Plemons
Steve Flemmi: Rory Cochrane
John Morris: David Harbour
FBI Agent Robert Fitzpatrick: Adam Scott
Fred Wyshak: Corey Stoll
Marianne Connolly: Julianne Nicholson
John Martorano: W Earl Brown
John Callahan: Bill Camp
Deborah Hussey: Juno Temple
Mickey Maloney: Mark Mahoney
John McIntyre: Brad Carter
Tommy King: Scott Anderson
DEA Agent Eric Olsen (Interrogator): Lonnie Farmer
Mom Bulger: Mary Klug
Mary Bulger: Erica McDermott
Douglas Cyr: Luke Ryan
Buddy Leonard: Owen Burke
Jeremiah O’Sullivan: Lewis D Wheeler
Sr. FBI Official (voice): Robert Walsh
Joe Cahill: Billy Meleady
Mrs Cody: Jamie Donnelly
Roger Wheeler: David De Beck
Officer Flynn: David Conley
Irish Nationalist: Ciaran Crawford
FBI Wire Tech: Thomas Philip O’Neill
Joey, Big Italian: Joey Vacchio
Jerry Angiulo: Bill Haims
Charlie: Anthony Molinari
Charlie’s Friend #1: Todd Ryan Jones
Charlie’s Friend #2: Declan Mulvey
Agent James: Bates Wilder
Dick Lehr: Marc Carver
Gerard O’Neill: Richard Donelly
State Captain: Gary Galone
Prisoner: Brian A White
FBI Agent: Peter Morse
Father Mackey: Tom Kemp
Michael Donahue: Patrick M Walsh
DEA Agent: Naheem Garcia
Nurse: Kathryn A Beauchamp
Drug Dealer #1: Stephen Curran
Drug Dealer #2: Darin MacEachern
Drug Dealer #3: Cary ‘Big Shug’ Guy
Crook: Sean Malone
Barman: Jack Neary
Boot Shop Owner: Jimmy Joe Maher
World Jai Alai Chairman: Forry Buckingham
Porthole Bartender: Danny DeMiller
Porthole Customer: Michael F Murphy
DEA Agent Dan Doherty: Alexander Cook
Little Mary Bulger: Ava Cooper
Kathleen Bulger: Stella Cooper