Black Mass was released in theaters last week to mixed reviews. Most people seem to think it was a decent movie, bordering on good, but not approaching great. It stars Johnny Depp as notorious real-life gangster James “Whitey” Bulger and tells the story of his Winter Hill Gang running rampant in South Boston.
It turns out that the people portrayed in the movie are not pleased with the artistic license taken by director Scott Cooper, writers Jez Buttersworth and Mark Mallouk, and even Depp himself. In a statement to People Magazine by his lawyer Hank Brennan, the real Bulger voiced his complaints:
“Johnny Depp might as well have been playing the Mad Hatter all over again as far as James Bulger is concerned,” Brennan says. “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 program.”
One of Bulger’s crew, Kevin Weeks, is also a character in the movie (played by Jesse Plemons). Weeks told The Daily Beast that he wasn’t happy with the movie, saying that they made him look like a “knuckle-dragging moron” and that the film made it “look like [he has] Down syndrome.”
He also said that a large portion of the movie was pure fantasy:
“According to Weeks, the filmmakers behind Black Mass “didn’t consult with anyone within the inner circle about the movie,” and as a result, there are major discrepancies between what really happened and what happens onscreen.”
Weeks also said that the FBI should not have been portrayed in such an innocent light in the movie, claiming that Bulger and his gang essentially considered FBI agent John Connolly to be a criminal as well, informing the gang on what the FBI was doing.
“We considered Connolly a criminal, too. He was our informant, and that’s how it was portrayed to all of us—that we were paying for his information. That’s why no one suspected that Jim Bulger was informing on us, because every time we made a score we’d put money aside to pay our contacts in law enforcement, and we were getting good information. 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, Howie Carr. Howie thought it was a made-up story, until he found out it was the truth.”
We guess this really shouldn’t be considered a surprise. A gang of murderers and criminals are mad that a movie showcases them of murderers and criminals. Even accounting for “creative licence” or “some scenes were altered for dramatic effect” or whatever you want to call it, Bulger and his cronies probably weren’t going to like this movie, no matter what.