“Black Mass” tells the true story of James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp), a small-time gangster in South Boston who had control of all organized crime in that area. Bulger’s brother is Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch), a senator from Boston. The FBI, headed up by agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), comes to Bulger with an offer he can’t refuse. He wants Bulger to become a rat and go after the Angiulo brothers of North Boston, a vicious criminal organization that has connections with the mob. They want Bulger to give them all the intel necessary in order to arrest them and, in return, the FBI will turn a blind eye to Bulger’s own criminal activities.
Bulger supplies them with the information they need, but he’s still determined to do things his way. Even after he’s outlived his usefulness, Connolly still forms an alliance with Bulger while remaining loyal to him and the FBI simultaneously.
Depp gives us his best film and performance in years. He creates a characterization of Bulger that is thrilling, riveting, chilling, mesmerizing and terrifying. When the film’s focus is on other characters, the movie loses a bit of its gravity, but despite its flaws, “Black Mass” largely rises on Depp’s shoulders.
(Rated R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use.)
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.