Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger
Joel Edgerton as John Connelly
Benedict Cumberbatch as Billy Bulger
Rory Cochran as Stephen Flemmi
Kevin Bacon as Charles McGuire
In 1995, then-Saturday Night Live star David Spade, caricaturing the hosts of entertainment analysis shows, said of Casino, “I liked it better when it was called ‘Goodfellas’.” In that particular case, this was an obvious cheap shot. But even with the much, much greater time since the 1990 mafia classic, this label might be more appropriate for Black Mass.
Johnny Depp plays James “Whitey” Bulger, the boss of the Winter Hill Gang. The FBI tries to get him to become an informant. But when things get rough, Whitey, despite his contempt for ratting, agrees to help the FBI bust a rival gang. It’s not long before this creates a snowball effect.
The one name in the listed cast that you’re most likely to have noticed is Johnny Depp. A number of years ago, he was the lone bright spot in those awful Pirates of the Caribbean sequels. Although maybe one good movie based on a Disneyland ride was one good movie too many. He once again demonstrates what a fantastic actor he is! He plays a gangster who cares more about himself than his organization every bit as well as he does a pirate with a heart. Alas, the rest of the cast is pretty much just there. Not bad, but no one really stands out, either.
Let’s get back to the Goodfellas comparison. I mentioned that there’s personally tormenting ratting out others on the part of the main character. Not unlike the way Goodfellas ended. Many characters, including Whitey himself, exhibit mannerisms similar to characters from that movie.
That wouldn’t be so bad if only there were some emotionally gripping scenes. There aren’t. Black Mass is largely forgettable in its plainness.
In conclusion, Black Mass is for crime drama fanatics only. Others will find it to be dull.
Overall: 5 out of 10