The Intimidating, Slow Burn of “Black Mass”

The threat of physical violence is omnipresent in Scott Cooper’s muted crime drama, Black Mass. The narrative focuses on the Faustian bargain between FBI agent John Connolly and his childhood friend and mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger.  As both men climb the ranks of their respective worlds, Connolly’s craft is subterfuge and deception; Bulger’s is intimidation and brute force. Though the card house tumbles eventually, neither the fall nor the resolution are the crux of this story. We may have come for the crime drama, but Cooper’s film strength is in the contemplation of Connolly’s misplaced loyalty towards Bulger, which the gangster wantonly exploits.

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