Friday afternoon I went to see Black Mass.

The preview trailers made me ambivalent because it evoked a “been there, done that” feeling in me after having seen the recent, conventional documentary Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger.

But, I ended up at the movie anyway because one of my students didn’t follow directions while writing an assigned movie review.

(I had provided a list of films for members of the class to choose among along with instructions to make sure I approved anything they may want to write about off the list to make sure I had seen it.)

Oh, well…

She’s a good student and I was feeling generous and I did have time Friday afternoon to go to an early matinee…so…

My take?

The first half or so is quite routine with good production values and good performances, but I think Black Mass gets better than expected as the story unfolds and gives equal emphasis to John Connolly, the FBI agent colluding with James “Whitey” Bulger.

Black Mass

The casting and performances are exceptional – Johnny Depp as James “Whitey” Bulger, Joel Edgerton as John Connolly, Benedict Cumberbatch as Billy Bulger, Dakota Johnson as Lindsay Cyr, Kevin Bacon as Charles McGuire, Peter Sarsgaard as Brian Halloran, and the list goes on.

In the final analysis, the film is better than I expected it to be even though I doubt I’ll give it another thought after I grade my student’s assignment.


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