blackmassheader2It has been a while since the last time I did a Based On A Truesday Story (a play on the words Tuesday and True Story), but I had to bring it back for a special movie. This past Friday, Black Mass, the film about one of South Boston’s most notorious gangsters in James “Whitey” Bulger was released into theaters. The film stars Johnny Depp (Donnie Brasco) stars as the notorious gangster himself as it looks at how Whitey got the push he needed in the game thanks to corrupt FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton).  It takes you deep into South Boston as Bulger goes on a rampage as he becomes one of the most powerful gangsters and second on the list of the FBI’s most wanted men behind Osama Bin Laden. The film is based on the book of the same name by former Boston Globe writers Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill and it looks at what Kevin Weeks, Steve Flemmi, and John Martorano had to say about Bulger. The film also stars Dakota Johnson (50 Shades Of Grey) as Lindsey Cyr, Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as Billy Bulger, Kevin Bacon (Footloose) as Charles McGuire, Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead) as Brian Halloran, Rory Cochrane (Dazed And Confused) as Steve Flemmi, David Harbour (The Equalizer) as John Morris, Adam Scott (Step Brothers) as FBI Agent Robert Fitzpatrick, Corey Stroll (This Is Where I Leave You) as Fred Wyshak, Julianne Nicholson (August: Osage County) as Marianne Connolly, W. Earl Brown (Scream) as John Martorano, Jesse Plemons (Observe And Report) as Kevin Weeks, Juno Temple (Killer Joe) as Deborah Hussey, and the film was directed by Scott Cooper (Out Of The Furnace).

black massAs with every film that is based on a true story, there are always those who doubt how true each event is and whether or not Hollywood expressed their creative liberty with some of the film. Kevin Weeks, one of the men depicted in the film recently spoke out on the film calling it fiction. He commented on Johnny Depp’s performance of Bulger and how it was written saying, “The only resemblance to Whitey’s character was the hairline. The funny thing is, Whitey’s look didn’t really change at all, just his clothes. It’s like we were stuck in a time warp. And the mannerisms—the way that Whitey talked to us—he never swore at us. In all the years I was with that man, he never swore at me once.” He later commented on a scene in the film that was depicted in Miami when a deal was being made to take out an important figure. Weeks says, “That never happened. In fact, I didn’t know about Roger Wheeler’s death until the Callahan murder. So just by having me be there giving Halloran the money, they have involved me in a conspiracy to kill Roger Wheeler. I’ve been libeled. I wasn’t involved in that at all, so I have a big problem with that. I just don’t know where they get the right to put events in there that did not happen.” There is also a very cool article from Time Magazine that describes what was fact or fiction about some important events in the film. In the film, they claim that the violence increased once Bulger’s son died. While it’s true that his son did die, they claim that he had ordered several hits before then with Weeks telling The Daily Beast, “Whitey was violent long before his son’s death.” Nevertheless, I thought Johnny Depp’s performance was masterful and that he was the best part of the film. I do feel that they made Flemmi and Weeks minor characters in the film than what they probably were in real life. The film itself was good, but Edgerton and Depp absolutely steal the show. One of my favorite elements of the film was the cinematography because they take some amazing shots of the city of Boston and Southie. Overall, my final grade for the film is a B=+

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