*In the 1970’s and 80’s, James J. Bulger was Boston’s most notorious criminal and leader of the ruthless Winter Hill Gang. His boyhood pal John Connolly, who worked at the local office of the F.B.I, turned a blind eye to Bulger’s crimes in exchange for information about the activities of his rivals. They viewed their “business arrangement” as a ‘loyalty’ thing.
James is currently serving time after more than 20 years as a fugitive, and Johnny Depp stars in a performance that is quite possibly his best since his role as cocaine smuggler George Jung in 2001’s “Blow.”
Based on the true crime book “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob,” the Scott Cooper-directed movie portrays Bulger as charismatic criminal mastermind, whose power and influence are both intoxicating and appalling. Bulger’s actions represent the white male power structure and privilege in America – the fact that he was allowed to harass, rob, intimidate and murder under the watchful eye of the F.B.I. is remarkable.
Depp’s riveting performance as Whitey Bulger lures you from the moment he appears on screen with his balding-slicked back greyish hair, dead front tooth, haunting pale skin and piercing – yet soulless – icy blue eyes that suggest Bulger has a gift for vetting a person and unlocking their innermost demons simply by looking them over once.
Depp’s choices in everything from the way he walks, sits, speaks to his henchmen, and assess his victims, aid in transforming him into this brazen anti-hero who enforced deadly punishment to suspected rats; while he himself was a remorseless government informer. A powerful delivery that elicits cheers when he evades captivity and a sense of relief when he’s eventually apprehended.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays William Bulger with a curious craftiness that makes you hope for a featurette on the “Black Mass” DVD about him and his come up as president of the Massachusetts State Senate, as well as the mysteries behind the “loyalty” shared between him, his brother and their cunning FBI pal-agent John Connolly, played by Joel Edgerton, who conveys Connolly’s arrogant ambition with organic conviction. Peter Sarsgaard delivers a brief but memorable performance as coked-up Boston hoodlum and Bulger murder victim Brian Halloran.
Celebrities such as Mike Epps, rapper RZA, directors John Singleton and F. Gary Gray, Alesha Renee, and reality star Draya attended a private screening of the film in Los Angeles this week, where eurweb was also on hand to get reactions from some of the stars afterwards, including actor Giovanni Ribisi.
“Black Mass” is now playing in theaters across the US.