Black Mass Movie Review


Will Kingsley, Staff Writer

Black Mass, an eerie tale of the ruthless and driven criminal known as “Whitey” Bulger, brings to light the violent and impoverished nature of South Boston in the 1960’s. The film is directed by Scott Cooper and stars Johnny Depp, with appearances from other notable actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Kevin Bacon. Depp does an excellent job of portraying “Whitey”, a dark and deranged character, often following unnerving acts with bone-chilling smiles.

The film does a great job of portraying a struggling community, fighting through the crime and corrupt government at the time. The palette of the movie is predominantly grey, often reflecting the mood of the characters. The hardship of the people of “Southie” is emphasized with the streetfights and their attire. Yet the film does not neglect the sense of pride and loyalty people had. Even though everyone knew what “Whitey” did, the people still greeted him as if he were their son. Inside, “Southie” people had grown ambivalent and tolerant, turning a blind eye to the problems in their community. The “best place in the world” could also be the worst. The soundtrack adds to the somber tone of the movie, while also enhancing the tense moments with suspenseful classical music.

Throughout the movie I was captured by the story of “Whitey”. How he was able to essentially run a city under the radar was fascinating to me. The director depicts what must have been a sad time in Boston, and I enjoyed the fact that the setting was less than an hour away. One thing that struck me was, by the end of the film, I had nearly forgotten that Black Mass was in fact based on a true story. The narrative of “Whitey’s” time in “Southie” is such a compelling tale that it is easy to forget the truth. Ultimately, the story of the despondent and conflicted community in South Boston is truly sad, and I imagine that this is what the director wanted to get across.

Black Mass successfully tells a tale of a toiling city, with great cinematography and one of Depp’s best performances in the past few years. Taking into account elements such as the narrative, acting, cinematography, and overall entertainment, Black Mass gets a 4/5 from me.