Black Mass

Featured In Issue 205, March 2016

WSR Score4
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Warner Home Video
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Brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use.
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Scott Cooper
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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Based on the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, Black Mass takes place in late 1970's and 1980's South Boston. FBI Agent John Connolly (Edgerton) persuades notorious Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) to collaborate with the FBI in order to eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and dangerous gangsters in Boston history. (Gary Reber)

Special features include the featurettes The Manhunt For Whitey Bulger (HD 01:01:38), Johnny Depp: Becoming Whitey Bulger (HD 12:24), and Black Mass: Deepest Cover, Darkest Crime (HD 23:00); and an UltraViolet digital copy.

The 2.40:1 1080p AVC picture was photographed on Kodak film stock with the Arriflex 235 camera and exhibits a heavy grain structure in a number of darkly lit interior scenes in the 1970's segment, which appears “plugged up” visually, while in later scenes, including the FBI office, is far cleaner, with excellent detail in close-ups of characters and object texture. The darker scenes provide decent detail but are veiled. Exterior daylight scenes are clear and nicely resolved. The color palette is naturally balanced with realistic hues, especially exhibited in the brighter scenes and FBI interiors. Contrast is decent, with deep blacks and shadow delineation. Overall, this is a picture that is at times stylized with a dark overtone, yet still a naturally hued presentation. (Gary Reber)

The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack is conventionally produced with essentially a monaural presence enhanced with an orchestral score spread wide and deep and extending to the surrounds. One scene in a dance club really energizes the soundfield with aggressive SPL, surrounds, and deep .1 LFE bass. Otherwise, the focus is on the dialogue, which consistently sounds natural with good spatial integration. Atmospherics and sound effects, such as gunfire, sound realistic and enhances in particular those segment of intense violence. While conventional, it delivers a sense of the period and nicely supports the gangster focus storytelling (Gary Reber)