Upcoming Johnny Depp movie Black Mass has reveived rave reviews on the international film circuit. Hailed as a ‘return to form’ by the much-loved actor, many are predicting that his performance could even win him an Oscar. The story of mobster and FBI informant Whitey Bulger, Black Mass is being praised for its gritty take on one of America’s most notoriously connected criminals. But recent comments by Mr. Bulger’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, and right-hand man Kevin Weeks reveal the movie may not be as realistic as the producers would have you believe.
“Johnny Depp might as well have been playing the Mad Hatter all over again as far as James Bulger is concerned,” lawyer Hank Brennan told People. “Hollywood greed is behind the rush to portray my client, and the movie missed the real scourge created in my client’s case, the real menace to Boston during that time and in other mob cases around the country – the federal government’s complicity in each and every one of those murders with the top echelon informant programme.” Interestingly, Mr. Bulger opted not to co-operate with producers and consult with Mr. Depp before filming.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, former enforcer and mobster Kevin Weeks lambasted the film’s director and writer for the erroneous portrayal of a difficult story. “We really did kill those people,” said Weeks, whose character appears in the film. “But the movie is a fantasy.”
“My character looks like a knuckle-dragging moron,” he joked. “The only resemblance to Whitey’s character was the hairline. The funny thing is, Whitey’s look didn’t really change at all, just his clothes. It’s like we were stuck in a time warp. And the mannerisms – the way that Whitey talked to us [in the movie] – he never swore at us. In all the years I was with that man, he never swore at me once. We never yelled at each other.”
Mr. Weeks also adds that the plot device involving Mr. Bulger’s loss of his son is far from accurate. “I wasn’t there for the death of his son – that happened before my time – but I was there for the death of his mother, which he took pretty bad,” he told the Daily Beast. “But really, Whitey was violent long before his son’s death.”
The mobster-turned-writer insists that the film’s producers are largely quiet when it comes to criticisng the FBI for their role in helping Mr. Bulger evade justice for so long. “The FBI were the ones that enabled Jimmy and Stevie to survive,” he explained. “Jimmy used to tell me, ‘I can call any one of six FBI agents and they’ll come to me and jump in this car with a machine gun and go on a hit.’ One FBI agent actually gave us 17 kilos of C-4 which we were going to use to blow up a reporter.”
Despite the factual errors, Black Mass has opened to largely positive reviews and healthy box office takings.
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