Black Mass Review

Overrated or flawless?


Max Koop, BHS Blueprint Movie Reviewer


Gangster movies have always been big in Hollywood. Even some like GoodFellas and The Godfather being huge cinematic landmarks. Black Mass if you couldn’t tell is a gangster biopic about Whitey Bulger. I read great reviews before I saw it so I was pumped. Then I watched some reviewers say it wasnt as good as everyone was saying and saw that had given it a 76%. I had no idea what to expect from this movie. So I had to see what was up.

First off, the whole cast is excellent especially Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton. I don’t think there was a single performance that was bad. Even Dakota Johnson coming fresh off of Fifty Shades of Grey (Queue the Nicolas Cage laugh) was good and after seeing this I think if she’s put in the right role she can work well. You’re probably asking yourself how was Johnny Depp? Was he as good as everyone says he was? He was fantastic in this movie.

If you don’t know Johnny Depp he has starred in some pretty big movies like Edward Scissorhands and Pirates of the Caribbean. Over the last couple of years though he’s been getting bashed by both critics and audiences basically saying he’s lost his spark. With some serious cinematic flops like Dark Shadows and Mortdecai. Even big fans of the pirates franchise said that Jack Sparrow had overstayed his welcome (I guess that didn’t make a difference since they are making a fifth one). I was surprised to see that when this movie came out people were saying things like he has returned at last. After watching the movie I have to agree he was truly mesmerising in Black Mass. I could barely even tell if it was an actor partially that’s how good he really was. I’m not even that big of a fan of the actor I was impressed after seeing this movie and made me want to watch more of his movies.

There are some very unforgettable scenes in this movie where your jaw will drop and you’ll think to yourself, “That actually happened?!”. There were lots of fantastic scenes including one particular scene where Whitey Bulger confronts John Conolly’s (Joel Edgerton) wife. Thinking about that scene gives me the chills. Johnny Depp knew how to stay calm but at the same time come off as a total creeper and that’s what frightened me about it.

This movie looks like a gangster movie should with crisp visuals,dark cinematography you can tell this was the time when gangsters ruled Boston. The soundtrack fit the tone of the movies dark setting. Also like the movie Se7en this movie used its dark cinematography and lighting very well in terms of the surrounding environments and to fit the tone of the movie. The look of Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger was great even if it is distracting at some points.

While this movie is good there are flaws with it. The movie could’ve been longer because you could tell there was a lot of stuff left out because there are some jumps from year to year that can skip over up to 5 years. There actually was a 3 hour cut of the movie but some stuff was taken out due to pacing issues.

The biggest complaint I have is the lack of emotion. The movie just doesn’t come off with any sort of emotion it left me hollow. The emotion is only there when it has to be with the death of some characters. Even then it skips over the emotion of how each character that was close to the characters that die you can’t really see how they felt about it because they just do the scene then move on and the audience doesn’t get to see how they recovered from the death.

With a background like Whitey Bulger you would expect this movie to have a lot of violence right? It does have its moments with close up head shots, beating people up, and some pretty disturbing murder scenes that are dark but aren’t shown off screen. With an R rated gangster movie about the most notorious gangster in U.S. history you would expect violence Tarantino style.

Bringing me back to before after watching this I asked myself, did Black Mass deserve its R rating? While there is quite a bit of swearing and not an excessive amount of violence, I saw it as a forced R. It didn’t have nudity or doesn’t condone drug use like The Wolf of Wall Street. Only a couple of elements cut down are needed to give this movie a PG-13 rating.

I know that was a lot of negatives but it truly is a good movie. I wouldnt say its as good as everyone says it is and personally I thought it was overhyped a bit too much and maybe overrated. I think this is a movie that needs a second look to really dig deep into it all. Trying to compare it to a classic like GoodFellas is stupid because it absolutely doesn’t compare. I know what I said above makes it look like there is not a lot going for it,and while I personally dont think its the best movie of the year (I don’t think anything will beat Mad Max Fury Road at this point) by far. Besides its flaws though the cast, some unforgettable scenes,crisp look and soundtrack of the movie make this one worth watching.