WTF: Black Mass (2015)

Black Mass 24 cinematography open eyed (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

Black Mass 01 poster (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

Spoiler Alert:

I shall be presiding over Black Mass, testifying to its actions and judging its transgressions to find if it is hella good or hasn’t got a prayer. So read on only if you’ve already witnessed Black Mass or don’t plan to.

Watch BLACK MASS here

Black Mass 02 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
My jokes are like her dinner: corny

0:01:19 Jesse Plemons (Todd from Breaking Bad and Ed Blumquist from Fargo [2015]) is unrecognisable as Kevin Weeks, an informant for the FBI. If I could act this well, I’d fake call in sick to work far more often.


DEA Agent Eric Olsen: Am I correct in stating that you are going from trusted confidant to one of South Boston’s most notorious and violent gangsters to government witness?

Weeks: Correct.

Agent Olsen: Then I need to know everything you know about the Winter Hill Gang, the FBI and John Connolly, and specifically what you know about your former boss and now fugitive, James “Whitey” Bulger.

DEA Agent Eric Olsen (Lonnie Farmer) interrogating Weeks

The DEA is trying to take my job with synopses like that.

Black Mass 03 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Doesn’t understand ‘fencing’ stolen goods

[N.B. According to the IMDb trivia page, Jesse Plemons gained weight for his role as Kevin Weeks and was subsequently asked by the producers of the television series Fargo (2015), his next project, to keep the weight on, as he portrays a character who is a butcher by profession.]



[The song you’re hearing is the Allman Brothers Band, “It’s Not My Cross To Bear”. If you like southern U.S. country/rock blues, I’m told there’s worse.]

0:05:32 Kevin Weeks is a bouncer at The Triple O’s, a club frequented by James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp). Weeks gets his arse handed to him by Charlie McTiernan (Anthony Molinari), a bloke he banned for urinating on the bar the week before. Charlie and his two friends beat up Kevin so badly that he can’t be called a bouncer because when he hits the wall, he doesn’t bounce at all.

Black Mass 40 cinematography triple o's (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

0:07:42 Jimmy includes Kevin in the Winter Hill Gang by asking him to drive out to a boat yard and help him pummel Joey Anguilo. I’ve had worse job interviews.

Black Mass 05 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“Don’t be stupid! You can’t sleep in a river bed!

[N.B. In reality, Jimmy and Kevin pummelled a bloke called Paul Giaimo, who’d slapped Bulger’s niece. And if they’d given such a thrashing to a real mobster? “There would have been bodies in the streets if that happened,” according to the real Kevin Weeks.]

0:10:25 John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who as a child looked up to Jimmy, is now an FBI agent returning to South Boston. He meets with William ‘Billy’ Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch), Jimmy’s brother and President of the Massachusetts Senate. John tells Billy he knows Jimmy is trying to horn in on the Mafia’s business. Bill Bulger walks out on the meal…I think he was fed up.

Black Mass 06 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
What to answer when someone asks who’ll pay the bill


Billy Bulger: Hey, Ma, did you hear old Mother Burke died over on Baker Street? No one found her for a couple of weeks.

All the more interesting when you realise Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Billy Bulger, also plays Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock – and Sherlock Holmes lives at 221 Baker Street.

Black Mass 41 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“My God! This wallpaper is a tapestry of justice!”

0:16:48 Connolly meets with Jimmy to tell him Gennaro Angiulo (of the same mob family as Joey Angiulo, whom Jimmy and Kevin laid out at 0:07:42 – in reality the Patriarca crime family) is planning to have Jimmy killed. Connolly proposes a deal between the two men, in which Jimmy will get information about his enemies from the FBI, and Jimmy will help the feds crack down on these enemies. Like a natural straight in Vegas, Jimmy thinks this is a good deal.

Black Mass 28 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“Hey, Johnny Depp, what is Saint Pauly’s IQ / the difference been doing 69 and 70 / does Amber Heard like most about you?”

0:18:57 Jimmy pays a visit to his girlfriend (Dakota Johnson as Lindsey Cyr) and their son (Luke Ryan as Douglas Cyr). As the lad is Jimmy’s boy, I think it’s safe to call him a ‘son of a gun’.

Black Mass 07 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
The kid hasn’t got a prayer


Here’s the deal… You did not get in trouble because you punched this sneaky brat in the face. Not at all. You got in trouble because you punched this sneaky little brat in the face in front of other people. … If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen.

Jimmy talking to his son

Just one of the ways Jimmy can teach someone a lesson.


Black Mass 04 sc Triple O's (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Reminds me of my three-figure salary: 000

0:24:36 In a flash forward, the FBI interview John ‘Johnny’ Martorano (W. Earl Brown) AKA the Basin Street Butcher, the Winter Hill Gang’s chief executioner. He admits to rubbing out 20 people. Killing is a good living.

0:25:31 A button man for the Angiulo family pops Mickey (Mark Mahoney) while he eats a hot dog in the front seat of his very American motor car. It would seem eating fast food truly is unhealthy.

0:26:21 Jimmy, Steve Flemmi (Rory Cochrane), and Martorano pick up Tommy the drunk (Scott Anderson). Tommy is meant help the group locate Suitcase, who they suspect set up Mickey. With a name like ‘Suitcase’, it should be in the bag.

Black Mass 08 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Bulger drives Stevie around the bend


We good?

Tommy apologizes for getting out of line when he was drunk at the bar

Martorano shoots him in the back of the head while Jimmy shakes his hand. Jimmy suspects Tommy of setting up Mickey, not Suitcase. Thus yes, Tommy’s good…good and dead.

0:28:34 Flashing forward to the FBI interview, Kevin Weeks wraps up the first act of the film by blaming the FBI for turning a small time crook like Jimmy Bulger into a kingpin. This is perhaps the least known career advancement program in the U.S. government.

0:29:12 John Connolly convinces his superiors, FBI Agents Charles McGuire (Kevin Bacon) and Robert Fitzpatrick (Adam Scott), to approve the deal using Jimmy as an informant [0:16:48]. The bosses are as excited by this deal as children at an opera.

 Black Mass 09 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“Nope, stacking magazines on our desk doesn’t make us look busy.”

0:30:38 We learn Jimmy took LSD 50 times for money and a reduced prison sentence while serving time in Alcatraz. If I’d known the U.S. government would pay me to take drugs, I could have retired while I was still in uni.


Black Mass 10 sc Spelling it out (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Spelling it out

0:39:58 Jimmy’s son dies from Reye’s syndrome, which gives Dakota Johnson an opportunity to act with her clothes on.

Black Mass 12 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
50 Shades of Great

0:42:17 Another flash forward to the interrogations. This time it’s Steve Flemmi’s turn and he’s informing on Whitey so that the death penalty option is removed from his sentence. Seriously, though, what’s worse, ‘life’ in a federal prison or an early exit? ‘Life’ isn’t worth living, imho. But that’s just me. What do you think?



[The song you’re hearing is “Slave”, by the Rolling Stones.]

0:43:27 Jimmy and the Winter Hill Gang want to get in the ‘jai alai‘ business. It looks a bit like tennis, so you could say they want into the tennis racket.

0:43:36 For the World Jai Alai activity, the Winter Hill Gang work with John Callahan (Bill Camp) and Brian Halloran (Peter Sarsgaard). Brian once helped two drug dealers face their deaths by shooting them in it.

Black Mass 11 GIF Haven't had shots (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“You haven’t had your shots. And neither have you.”

0:44:38 Agent Charles McGuire gives Connolly a time limit of two weeks for concrete information on the Angiulo family or he’ll revoke Bulger’s protected status of ‘criminal informant’. Like revoking a license to kill.

[N.B. McGuire says Jimmy is making the FBI look like the Keystone Cops, which is a reference to silent film era slapstick troupe of fictional police officers.]

0:47:46 Jimmy gives Connolly intel on where Angiulo’s headquarters are in exchange for having the FBI remove all of Angiulo’s vending machines. One hand washes the other, but they’re both still dirty.

Black Mass 13 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Whitey practices back alley proctology

0:49:02 In South Florida, a new head of World Jai Alai is appointed, (David De Beck as Roger Wheeler). There is apparently much money to be made betting on this, though I agree with Steve,

I can’t believe people pay to watch this shit.

0:51:24 Jimmy gives Brian Halloran a bag of cash to forget that he heard about killing Wheeler, who would like the jai alai betting money himself. Jimmy is paid $20,000 to not do anything? Where do I get a job like that? Oh wait, I’m a blogger, I already have a job like that.

Black Mass 14 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
I’m under the gun and he’s over a barrel

0:52:42 Martorano shoots Wheeler in the head. The kids in the nearby pool act as though they’ve just been forced to watch Left Behind.

0:55:17 Halloran panicked and Hallo-ran to the FBI to tell them Jimmy had Wheeler killed.

Black Mass 15 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Applying for a snow job

1:01:58 Jimmy kills Brian Halloran himself, after learning from Connolly that Halloran was a rat. A snitch in time takes dives.

1:04:14 Just as Charles is about to end the operation with Bulger, the wiretap in the mafia headquarters pays off with the Don confessing to a myriad of crimes on tape. Confession is good for the soul, but terrible for your record.

Black Mass 16 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
After thousands of hours, experts still don’t understand the appeal of Justin Bieber


[N.B. The song you’re listening to is “Don’t Bring Me Down”, by The Animals (with Eric Burdon)]

1:05:58 At the disco, celebrating Angiulo’s arrest, Connolly and Whitey and the rest of the Winter Hill Gang listen to Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way” without shame.

1:07:08 Then, with FBI agent Connolly’s knowledge, Martorano eliminates Callahan, the other World Jai Alai contact, to tie up loose ends. Callahan’s end may not be loose, but it is brutal.

Black Mass 17 sc Boot (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Head trouble got him the boot



1:10:37 At Jimmy’s mother’s house after her funeral, Cumberbatch acts the shite out of his scene. Hard to believe this proper Englishman can nail an American accent as well as Hugh Grant nailed Americans.

Black Mass 18 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“My acting is magically delicious.”

1:13:54 Jimmy and Stevie go to the South Boston police department to pick up Deborah Hussey (Juno Temple), a drug addicted prostitute who pleasures her stepfather (Steve) by putting his honey where her mouth is.

1:17:12 Ms Temple is truly at the top of her game in this film. She acts younger here then she did in Horns. There are times when it’s good not to act your age.

Black Mass 19 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Depp noticed his date was much too old for him only after he’d put on his glasses

1:18:32 Jimmy is afraid Deborah will share with the police things about the operation Stevie may have told her. To be safe, he takes her on a tour of a house. He shows her the living room, the kitchen, and the dead room.

[N.B. In Kevin Weeks’ own words:

The true story is that me and Jimmy went to that house and we were waiting for Stevie. … I go and use the bathroom upstairs, and as soon as I come down the stairs, I see Stevie and Deborah come in, and I hear boom-boom. I walk in and see that Jimmy had strangled her. I thought she was dead, but then Stevie put his head on her chest, said she was still alive, and he put a clothesline rope around her neck, put a stick in it and twisted. And then after, Stevie dragged her body downstairs and pulled her teeth out. So Stevie wasn’t all sympathetic, mourning, and sorrowful like he is in the movie. Stevie enjoyed murder.]

1:21:07 Immediately after Deborah makes her hasty exit from the film, the Winter Hill Gang have a barbecue at Connolly’s house where his wife Marianne (Julianne Nicholson) makes it very clear she doesn’t approve of the company her husband keeps. She’s the hostess with the most less.

Black Mass 20 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“I was told there would be finger food, and my finger is hungry.”

1:26:52 As a warning, Jimmy goes to the master bedroom in John’s house to get a hold of Marianne. By the throat.

Black Mass 21 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Whitey gives Marianne a choker

1:31:38 Connolly goes to butter up United States Attorney Fred Wyshak (Corey Stoll) but instead the federal lawyer gets on John’s case.

Black Mass 22 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Wyshak needed time for reflection

1:35:02 Agent Fitzpatrick discovers that all of the privileged information given by Whitey Bulger is recycled from other informants. To keep Bulger’s privileged status, Connolly is recovering old information and attributing it to Whitey. Same shite, different way.

1:35:20 American news presenter Connie Chung reports that Jimmy’s weapons shipment to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in Northern Ireland has been seized. He was trying to give them a hand but they took away his arms.


Black Mass 24 cinematography open eyed (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Bulger learned to sleep with both eyes opened

1:37:01 DEA informant John McIntyre (Brad Carter), the snitch that gave up the IRA arms shipment to the Irish navy, is invited to a surprise party at Whitey’s. The surprise will be when Jimmy toes him to a chair and Weeks trounces him senseless.

1:37:32 Agent McGuire is told he cannot go after Bulger because the bureau can’t cast dispersions on a man whose testimony will convict a large number of mobsters. McGuire is free to go after the FBI agents who are part of the scam (Connolly and Morris). Sounds like two agents are going to be taken out, and not to dinner.

Black Mass 25 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
The auditory exam fell on deaf ears

1:43:21 While Wyshak is looking for McIntyre, Jimmy is strangling him with a rope in the basement. To find him, Wyshak is going to need to leave no stone unturned, especially the stones under the bridge near the river.

1:44:25 Agent Morris tells everything to the Boston Globe, who print the article. It’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

Black Mass 26 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Bulger is a headliner

1:49:14 Everybody is arrested. As they say in cocaine, ‘It’s the end if the line.’

1:52:31 The cards are dealt here.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.



Bulger was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus five years for the deaths of at least eleven people.

Roll credits to some photographs of the real places.

Tally Ho’

  • WTF!?’s: 0 that are strictly criminal
  • When to Follow: When you’re 16-17 years old and have never seen a Mafia film before. This is a good one to start on before you move on to The Godfather or a Scorsese mob movie.
  • Where’s This Found: Unfortunately, this may be Johnny Depp’s crowning achievement as an actor. I say ‘unfortunately’ because the story here is neither new nor interesting enough to merit our attention. Depp inhabits the role of Jimmy Bulger but, as we don’t care enough about Bulger to care about what happens to him, we don’t care about the film. I’ll say it here, however, Depp’s acting in Black Mass is better than DiCaprio’s acting in The Revenant. Out of a possible 10, I have 7 F’s to give – and it’s all for the actors.

7 Fs 139pt

  • What To Feedback:

[Note: a reader suggested “Tom Hardy in Legend” as an ‘Other’, so it has been added to the poll.]

All GIFs used in this review were created with the Imgflip online meme generator

[N.B. I referenced these very informative as research tools for this review]

Left Over WTF (Way Too Funny) Photos

Black Mass 29 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Guns ‘n’ Roses karaoke


Black Mass 30 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“If you won’t hold your head up, I will.”


Black Mass 32 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
“Explain again how I’m not being considered for an Oscar?”


Black Mass 33 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Just found out Amber heard


 Black Mass 34 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
Whitey still hasn’t got a prayer


Black Mass 36 (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
The Senator arrived for a meat and greet


Black Mass 39 cinematography gas station (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)
This will give you gas

Prints suitable for reposting!

WTF!? did they say?

 Black Mass 47 WTF say it didn't happen (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

WTF!? do you meme?

Black Mass 42 meme Bieber (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

Black Mass 43 meme Finger Food (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

Black Mass 44 meme Strip Poker (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

Black Mass 45 meme Mad Hatter (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

Black Mass 46 meme Heavy Drinking (WTF Watch The Film Saint Pauly)

What to Follow Up

WTF review of another Depp effort


WTF review of a better-acted film?


WTF review of Dakota Fanny
Oh, Al! Bar None review of Alice in Wonderland


Oh, Al! Bar None review of Dark Shadows

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