black mass

Hey MMT Fam!  I’m a little behind but wanted to give my quick opinions on two films I saw that both opened last Friday, BLACK MASS starring Johnny Depp and CAPTIVE starring David Oyelowo and Kate Mara. Both films are based on true stories, however I believe one was a bit more captivating (no pun intended) on the big screen.

“Black Mass” is based on a novel of the same title, written by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill,  and chronicles the “unholy alliance” between FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton who to me was almost unrecognizable considering I’d just watched him in THE GIFT) and infamous mob boss John “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp), who led the notorious Winter Hill Gang in 1970-90’s Boston.

For me the film was reminiscent of the fictional Boston-set film “Mystic River” as far as feel and direction – albeit it is a way more violent affair. And I certainly agree with most critics that Johnny Depp gives a laudable performance – but the film was filled with great performances including the aforementioned Edgerton and Jesse Plemons, who portrays Bulger’s right-hand man Kevin Weeks. Again, this is a gangster movie and it doesn’t shy away from murder/mayhem, so it isn’t one for the squeamish.

Comparatively, “Captive” starring David Oyelowo – who gives an outstanding performance as convicted serial killer/rapist Brian Nichols – gets most of the violence (slight spoiler, but it’s a true story so…) out of the way early on before delving into what really is the basis for the movie – the kidnapping of recovering meth addict Ashley Smith (an amazing Kate Mara), her survival tactics which included her reading The Purpose Driven Life (author Rick Warren) to Nichols, and the redemptive outcome of the 7-hour hostage situation. The movie is also based on a novel – Unlikely Angel – written by Smith, and is produced by Oyelowo.

It’s awkward to critique a film like “Captive,” considering the basis of the story, but I did feel like it was more Lifetime than big-screen worthy. The first half of the story was riveting and then I found myself not as invested towards the latter half.

I will say that both CAPTIVE and BLACK MASS are careful to portray – without glorification – the monstrous actions of the main characters (Bulger, Nichols respectively). So what’s the take away? I’d recommend both, but if you had money for one ticket I’d say spend it on “Black Mass” and rent or catch “Captive” on-demand.

Let me know what you think when you see the films – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Until next thought, Thomasena


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