Black Mass – Director – Scott Cooper

I try not to see too many films that are scheduled for release during or just after TIFF but this was an exception this year. I really wanted to see if Johnny Depp could still act after a series of pretty light and silly stuff and it turns out he can. While I enjoyed Legend, my other gangster movie of the festival more it was not a log more. Depp can be an accomplished character actor and as Whitey Bulger the infamous Boston mobster he creates a truly scary role. There are several scenes where you cringe more in your seat than the poor victims on screen. The movie covers Bulger’s career as he rose to become the most notorious crime figure in Boston during the seventies and eighties. He is a totally local boy from South Boston or Southie as its residents call it. At the time of the film Southie is a rough and poor part of town that spawned street toughs and gangs and Bulger rose from that to push out the mafia and other competition to make a crime kingdom that lasted for 20 years. His brother played by Benedict Cumberbach chose the more legitimate route of politics becoming a senator and later chancellor of the University of Massachusetts. Bulger manages to corrupt FBI agents and uses them to help wipe out the competition from the mafia and other gangs. He himself was ruthless and violent and made sufficient numbers of enemies that he is eventually brought down. He himself escaped and hid out for 13 years before he was finally caught and convicted for his crimes.

I have not said too much about the overall quality of the film I suppose because the story is very compelling and that may say it all. It is well scripted, brilliantly acted by a stellar cast, and shot to evoke the darkness of the story. Well worth taking in but again be warned that the violence is sort of omnipresent and the suspense will kill you. Again reflecting on the Hitchcock film, Cooper does a great job of cranking up the suspense and releasing it in sometimes surprising ways. Great film so since it is already out – get out and see it.

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