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Drama - Gangland

Black Mass (2015)

Duration2h 3m
RatingsUK: 15, USA: R, Russia: 18+,  
Source of storyBased on real events in Boston and a book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.
DirectorScott Cooper
Writers/ScriptMark Mallouk, Jez Butterworth
StarringJohnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Corey Stoll, Juno Temple 
RatingsIMDb: 6.9 by 167,024 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 73% by 284 critics

Elevator Pitch: A bunch of guys grow up in South Boston and are friends from childhood, two are the Bulger brothers Bill, who becomes a senator, James who becomes a mob boss, and crucally John Connolly, who becomes an FBI agent. In order to combat an Italian mob, John recruits James “Whitey” Bulger as an informant, which more or less releases a wave of mob executions, and John’s boss soon realises that the tips provides by Whitey are not really providing new information. Then on the arrival of a new deputy DA, the whole question of the informants is called into question, and gradually Whitey’s involvement with the FBI is revealed.

Content: No sex or nudity but almost continuous smoking and drinking. A lot of time taken up with gangland executions although I had a bit of trouble identifying exactly why these were happening, other than pure sadism on the part of those involved. Quite a few meetings in the FBI offices as mobsters are interviewed and, in return for reduced sentences, spill the beans. The Bulger family meet quite a bit for meals, and so do the Connolly family, sometimes involved with each other. Some stuff about Irish parades and the association with the IRA. 

A View: I recently saw an edition of the Simpsons which seemed to be taking the mickey out of everything to do with Boston, particularly the Bulger stuff and the Irish connections. It actually told me a bit more than the film did. Quite a lot of this outing was boring, and the critics who did not like it pointed out that it lacked the  underlying tension of other underworld films. Maybe we were shown too much. So there are a lot of mob films out there. Choose another. 

Additional Info: Bulger was assassinated in prison in 2018.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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