Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill base Black Mass on the book called Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob. Scott Cooper, as the director of the movie, tries to portray the life of James “Whitey Bulger” – a badass gangster chief from the 1970’s Boston. One of the main attractions is Johnny Depp who perfectly or almost perfectly played Whitey. The movie also stars Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane and more.
Released on 18th September 2015, the movie’s budget was $53 million. Standing second in Box Office in the following weekend, it went on to earn a gross of $99.8 million. We got our hands on the recently released DVD & Blu-Ray, courtesy Sony DADC.
The movie appear as stories narrated by Kevin Bacon and Stephen Flemmi – Whitey Bulger’s companions – who agreed to be part of the FBI’s Witness Protection Program after the capture of their Winter Hill Gang. The scene is based on South Boston where Whitey and his comrades grew up and form the Winter Hill Gang controlling parts of the illegal trade that includes drug commission, weapon trade and prostitution. Whitey’s brother William “Billy” Bulger, on the other hand, grew up to be a senator of the state; yet the bond between the two brothers was amazingly fine. John Connolly was also a Southie who was quite close to the Bulgers before he leaves the city for his career.
The Winter Hill Gang headed by Whitey Bulger was not doing too well in their small town and had been facing threats from the ‘Anguilo Brothers’ – a Mafia Family. Things got harder for Whitey as his six-year-
Old son passed away suddenly due to Reye’s syndrome. Then, his mother too died which left him cold and more involved in the crime and business of his gang. John, who was just back in town as a FBI agent, was extremely determined to make a name by bringing down the Mafia family who were ruling in most parts of Boston city. His plans involve the making of Whitey as an informant, which his fellow agents never appreciate due to the risk involved. Whitey knew this was a big chance for his gang to bloom. Although he was the informant for the FBI, frankly, he was always the one in control from the start until the agency eventually dig up the fraud behind this deal.
The Winter Hill Gang was at its zenith – with the FBI covering their dirty tracks; while agent John Connolly was also enjoying the attention and praise he received due to the capture of the Anguilo Brothers. Whitey and his gang made a hell lot of money and they got their hands in illegal crime in Miami too – not just the Boston. They trade weapons, drugs, women and lay hands in all sorts of illegal business. Whitey would do anything keep aside anyone who tried to turn against him – he disliked rats and will not spare them even if they are a close alliance.
However, things could not go smooth after a new attorney came to the State. His name was Fred Wyshak – a bulldog prosecutor who would not let any dirty thing slip away from his sight. He was a big threat for John and the whole Winter Hill gang as Wyshak was so convicted to dig up the truth about Whitey Bulger. John knew bad days were coming and tried to take help from Whitey’s brother; but William Bulger would not get his hands dirty. Whitey’s relation with his brother, however, never got bitter even after things got rough and Whitey was about to run. The truth eventually came out and the Winter Hill Gang was brought down. Jim and his fellow mates were also tried for their misconduct. Whitey was on the run for 16 years and was eventually caught in 2011.
Watching Black Mass movie will leave you wonder how the FBI works to tackle local crime and how mobs run their illegal business in their town. Johnny Depp received enormous praise for his effort to portray Whitey Bulger not only as a cold and evil gangster but also as a man with emotions and family attachments. The make-up and costume design was extraordinary.
The movie however seem to struggle in highlighting more than 15 years of the life of Whitey Bulger in just 122 minutes. It is worth a watch, may be for a second or even a third time. Black Mass is one of the best biographical thriller movies you can find.
Black Mass is now out on DVD and Blue-ray