What is it about gangster movies that we love so much? Is it that they manage to tap into the darker side of our humour, or just a random fascination with how the other other half live? Whatever it is, it ensnared us all once again in the latest addition to the long line of epic mob thrillers, Black Mass, the true story of organised crime boss Whitey Bulger in South Boston during the 1970s.
It’s a pretty big name outing for the film with Johnny Depp (The Tourist) going through a significant transformation to take on the role of Whitey, and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies) as his state senator brother, Billy Bulger. It was also tipped for potential award success, which made it one to watch in advance of next year’s Oscars – especially Depp himself who’s almost unrecognisable in the role. However, it went on not to get nominated in any of the major categories. Check out the image above and trailer below to get a glimpse of how completely he’s managed to get into character.
Cinema – Black Mass will be getting a UK release date on the 27th November 2015, following on from the US release date on the 18th September, so it’ll be a dark and brutal introduction to the onset of winter. This makes it well placed to pick up on the Academy Award panel’s hit list. We’re also expecting it to get a lot of build-up hype in the run up to the cinematic release, so it should be a big success at the box office, but the question is whether or not it’ll live up to the name it’s starting to make for itself. Visit our movie release dates page to see what else will be making its way to the big screen over the next year or so.
DVD, Blu-ray and digital download – The film arrived on home entertainment on the 21st March 2016 in the UK, following on from the US DVD, Blu-ray and digital download release date on the 16th February 2016.
The plot for the film is taken from the 2001 book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob. It charts the relationship that forms between Whitey and the FBI after his violent mob boss antics brings him under their influence and he’s made into one of their key informant in a bid to bring down an Italian crime family. However, with the rival gangster family under pressure from the FBI, Whitey’s left to consolidate his control over South Boston, leaving a lot of questions over the entire situation.
In addition to Depp and Cumberbatch, the film also includes Jesse Plemons (Paul) as Whitey’s longtime criminal associate, Kevin Weeks; Sienna Miller (Unfinished Business) as his girlfriend, Catherine Greig; Dakota Johnson (21 Jump Street) as Lindsey Cyr, his former girlfriend and mother of his only child; Rory Cochrane (Argo) as Steve Flemmi, another Irish mob pal of Whitey’s; Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) as FBI Agent John Connolly; Julianne Nicholson (Boardwalk Empire) as Connolly’s wife, Marianne; and Adam Scott (The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty) as FBI Agent Robert Fitzpatrick.
The screenplay for the adaptation has been written by Mark Mallouk and British playwright and screenwriter, Jez Butterworth (Edge Of Tomorrow). Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) has directed the movie, with Masanobu Takayanagi (Silver Linings Playbook) taking on the director of photography responsibilities, and Brian Oliver, Tyler Thompson, John Lesher, Patrick McCormick and Scott Cooper producing. Peter Mallouk, Lauren Selig, Brett Granstaff and Gary Granstaff are the executive producers.
DVD and Blu-ray extras
Black Mass DVD special features:
- Johnny Depp: Becoming Whitey Bulger – Johnny Depp gives us a taste of how he went about becoming the mob boss.
Black Mass Blu-ray special features:
Same as the DVD special features, plus…
- The Manhunt for Whitey Bulger feature
- Black Mass: Deepest Cover, Darkest Crime
Having seen the trailer and read up on the true story behind the move, there seemed to be a lot of potential for Black Mass to be a hard hitting gangster biopic of epic proportions and that’s exactly what it went on to be. The only cautionary tale is that that the scene that you can see in the trailer below with Whitey pretending to be angry over a family secret feels very similar to Joe Pesci’s legendary “I’m funny” scene in Goodfellas, which takes some of the plaudits away from the film.
We’ve tried not to go into too much detail about the true story of Whitey Bulger, you can do your own Wikipedia research if you’re looking for spoilers, but Black Mass is a brutal biopic release that documents the rise and fall of the once powerful and murderous mob boss. Read our full review for more details.