Black Mass captures the madness and minutia of being Whitey Bulger
Depp and Cumberbatch get to the heart of being a gangster in new Blu-ray
Johnny Depp portrayed one of the most frightening, soulless, notorious bullies in recent American history. But in addition to playing Donald Trump in FunnyOrDie’s parody, Depp also starred as legendary Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in director Scott Cooper’s Black Mass.
Bulger ruled the Boston underworld for decades, with the help of the FBI, to which he reportedly fed crumbs and small-time crooks over time in order to consolidate his power. His old neighborhood of South Boston was the type of place where kids became criminals or cops, and childhood friendships often persevered between those camps to mutual benefit. In Black Mass, Joel Edgerton played one of those kids from the neighborhood who grew up idolizing Whitey and then cozied up to him after he became a government hot-shot investigating organized crime. Not that Whitey didn’t already have lots of help; his clean-cut brother, Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) was president of the Massachusetts State Senate for almost 20 years.
In these clips from the Black Mass Blu-ray, which arrives on Feb. 16, Cooper and the cast examine Bulger’s background. “It was important to understand him as the head of this criminal empire, but also to understand his relationship with the city,” says Cooper. “Because we’re all shaped by our environments, and he was shaped by the sense of code in South Boston.”
Black Mass wasn’t nominated for any Academy Awards, a development that might surprise some of the people who saw the film when it premiered at the September festivals. Not only was Depp anointed an Oscar contender, but Edgerton and Julianne Nicholson also seemed destined for serious awards consideration. The film’s underwhelming box office, however, seemed to doom it to the second tier, though Depp did nab a Screen Actors Guild Award nod. Awards or not, Black Mass is a great at-home watch that warrants a second look — if only to watch this scene all over again.