A decent movie to watch on a plane
I watched "Black Mass" for the first time on a plane from Boston to Frankfurt. I just spent a year in Massachussetts, so I thought it would be the right movie to say good bye to my favorite state and my beloved city of Boston. What I loved was how the atmosphere in the rough times of the 70's and early 80's was conveyed, and that I could recognize many familiar places. It was really hard for me to imagine that these kinds of mafia wars that are shown in the movie took place in the Italian influenced Northend and the Irish-American Southend at that time. Nowadays, the Northend is home of the best restaurants in Boston. "Southie" is still a sketchy place that I tried to avoid whenever possible.
I also perceived the coldness in the movie. The freezing atmosphere that was created goes well with the setting of New England in wintertime. But it's the kind of coldness that makes it uncomfortable to watch it at times. Even in the darkest movies, there is normally an "evil" character you sympathize or even identify with quite quickly. That's what usually makes it fun to watch. But I never felt that way with Black Mass. The character of Whitey Bulger is just too cruel and evil for me to handle. He takes revenge on enemies, partners or old friends alike, just because they've made the mistake of getting into his way. I am talking about situations where he meets someone at an abandoned place, pretends to forgive him, and seconds later his henchman shoots him in the back of his head. There are plenty of scenes like that throughout the movie, sometimes it's just too much.
There is no doubt that Johnny Depp’s portrayal is brilliant, though. It's much different from most of the former, often silly roles that he is mostly associated with nowadays. In spite of that, for the reasons mentioned above, "Black Mass" is not in any way comparable to classics such as "Good Fellas" or "The Departed". Therefore, it obviously wasn't a huge success outside of the US. It's not the kind of movie that sticks in your memory or makes you quote your favorite scenes when you talk about it. But it's definitely worth watching if you are interested in the dark history of Boston or have a personal connection to the city. And it's definitely a decent movie to watch on a plane. *