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Black Mass | 2015 | R | - 3.8.10

Based on a true story: In 1975 an FBI agent (Joel Edgerton) asks a childhood friend, who's also an Irish mob boss (Johnny Depp) to inform on the Italian mob. The Irish gangster, who's also the brother of a Massachusetts State Senator (Benedict Cumberbatch), becomes the ruthless leader of the Winter Hill Gang as he turns his unorthodox FBI alliance to his advantage. Also with Kevin Bacon, Corey Stall, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Johnson. Directed by Scott Cooper. [2:02]

SEX/NUDITY 3 - A husband and his wife hug and kiss briefly, then he reaches around her and taking her buttocks in his hands (she is wearing slacks), lifts her to sit on a kitchen counter, kisses her neck and the scene ends (sex implied).
  A man knocks on a bedroom door and when a woman answers and says she is ill, he rubs and caresses her hair, forehead, cheeks and chin, ending by clasping her throat briefly with one hand; he steps back and looks her up and down saying that her husband is a lucky man and then leaves as she cries. An unmarried man and woman have a young son and the man lives elsewhere; in one scene, the man kisses the woman on the forehead.
 A club scene features women wearing strapless and some backless clingy dresses that reveal cleavage, bare shoulders and backs as they dance close to male partners on a crowded dance floor; some of them are wiggling their hips; one woman with her back to a seated man twists and writhes close to his lap and chest.
 A man points out a woman as a prostitute and we see that she is wearing heavy makeup and tight-fitting legless shorts with a halter-top and a faux fur jacket, revealing moderate cleavage, bare waistline and legs to the hips. A woman wears a V-necked blouse that reveals slight cleavage. A beach scene shows a few women wearing one-piece bathing suits that reveal some cleavage and men in swimsuits with bare chests.

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VIOLENCE/GORE 8 - Two men drive in a car and stop, while a third man gets out of a parked car and begins firing a shotgun at them: the driver is shot in the head, screams and curses before falling dead while the passenger is shot and bleeds from the shoulder and leg, falls out of the car, and is struck several more times in the legs and chest (we see blood flow); the shooter fires a pistol into the wounded man's head and face and we see some blood, but he lies dead at an angle where we cannot see the face. A man stands up from his table at a restaurant and shoots his two dining companions in the head before he walks out (we see blood spray from each head). A man with a handgun sits on a motorcycle beside a parked car and shoots the driver in the head; the driver falls over into the seat beside him and we see a large blood splatter on the passenger side window as the motorcycle drives off. A man walks up to a parked car in a parking lot and shoots the driver in the face (we see blood splatter on the windshield and passenger side window as the man falls away from the camera) and at the sound of the shooting, boys and girls nearby scream off-screen. At a shoreline under a bridge, a man shakes hands with a second man as a third man shoots the second man in the back of the head; the victim falls and we see some blood on his head and we then see a man digging under the bridge and we hear that many bodies lie buried there.
 Two men take another man to an empty house where the man, already beaten, sits in a chair with a bloody face, mouth and teeth: a man uses a noose around the victim's neck to strangle him and we see popping eyes and significant amounts of slobber as the man straggles, grunts many times and dies as two men are told to pull all the victim's teeth and bury him under a bridge. Two men take a woman to an empty house where one man grabs her by the throat and begins choking her as we hear her shout; the camera moves off-screen and we hear grunting as another man watches and when the woman is dead, we see one bare thigh and knee from outside the doorway, as the body lies dead. A man in the back seat of a parked car punches a man in the front passenger seat, while the driver also begins punching the victim; after pushing the victim from the car to the ground, the driver pounds him in the face a few times below the frame; the first man and the driver leave the victim lying face up, unmoving (possibly dead), with a bloody face.
 A male bouncer outside the door of a bar turns away three men for fighting in the bar the last time they visited; one of the three men head-butts the bouncer and the three men beat him with punches in the face and head until his face, eyes and mouth are bloody; a mob boss comes out of the bar and stops the fight, slapping the head-butting man in the face a few times and the three men leave (we see the beaten man the next day with a bruise around his swollen eye and cheek). A mob boss walks up to a man on a sidewalk and beats him in the head with a blackjack several times until the man falls to the ground, presumably dead; a man accompanying the mobster pushes another man away from the action. A man in a café walks into the men's room and vomits into a toilet (we hear retching but do not see the vomiting); a man walks out of another stall and attacks him, but he beats the man to the floor, unconscious.
 A woman says that her son has a fever and we see his red face as he sleeps; the next day, the boy is in the hospital with Reyes Syndrome, lying still, unconscious and wearing an oxygen mask and with an IV line in his arm under the covers; the boy's mother cries and says that the boy is brain dead and she will pull the plug, then argues with the child's father and she walks away as the man kicks over his chair and upends the table with a lot of noise before walking away (we see and hear no more about the boy, but death is implied).
 Two police cruisers with flashing lights sit parked in front of a stopped car with an open driver's door where we see a dead man slumped over the steering wheel, with a little blood on his face. We see a man's body in an open car trunk with his face hidden, but blood appearing on the top of the head. We see several black and white photos of dead men on streets and in a phone booth, lying on their backs, with bloody faces. We see a close-up of a photo of a dead man's bloody and bruised face.
 A man is seen being arrested at gunpoint and we see two police cars with flashing lights as a caption states that he received 40 years in prison for second-degree murder. A man was convicted of 10 murders. An elderly man with a short white beard walks into a parking garage and four agents with rifles drawn run out of cars in the background; the man stops, arms raised above his head and his back to the camera as a caption states that he was convicted of 11 murders and received two life sentences plus five years.
 In several scenes, men shout angrily and curse at each other and in one of the scenes, an agent shouts back at his supervisor. A man and his wife argue and curse each other over his friends and coworkers in a few scenes. An agent argues with a criminal and releases him. A man and a state senator argue briefly. A man arrives home to find that his wife has changed the door locks; he shouts at the bedroom window without results. An FBI agent tells a mob boss that a rival mob is going to kill him. Several mobsters meet in a restaurant and one of them suggests that a man who will not sell properties to him may soon have a widow who will sell them. A government agent asks a man if he shot and killed two drug dealers and the shooter does not respond, then asks for witness protection, is denied, he whines and calls out, "I'm a dead man!" We hear that a woman in Baker Street was beaten and killed. A man tells a male friend, "Just saying' [talking too much] can get you buried real [F-word deleted] quick," then he laughs loudly. An agent tells a mobster, "You can't kill anybody." An FBI supervisor approves an agent to make a connection with a mobster to work together for information, but says, "No drugs. No Murder." A young boy tells his father that he punched a bully in the face and his father tells him not to let anyone see him do it in the future. A government agent states that a mobster has many charges against him, including murder, drug dealing, arson, extortion, loan sharking, arms running and racketeering. We hear that an American mobster sent weapons to Northern Ireland terrorists by boat, but the ship's captain told the FBI about it and stopped the delivery.
 Scenes on TV show tanks and armed soldiers in Northern Ireland. We see a funeral with a closed coffin covered with flowers.

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LANGUAGE 10 - About 254 F-words and its derivatives, 3 sexual references, 21 scatological terms, 18 anatomical terms, 4 mild obscenities, name-calling (crazy, stupid, dumb, retard, clowns, fat, filthy, project rat, psychopath, faggot, balloon head, drug addict, sick, whore, sneaky brat), exclamations (shut-up), 5 religious profanities (GD), 12 religious exclamations (Oh My God, Oh God, God Bless, God Knows What, Oh Jesus, Christ, Holy [scatological term deleted], I Swear To God, Jesus, In The Name Of The Father The Son And The Holy Ghost, Amen).

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SUBSTANCE USE - A cassette tape plays and we hear a Mafia boss say that he and his organization sell marijuana, a man says that two men sold speed to all the high school students and some 12 and 13-year-old girls in Boston, an FBI informant states that the Irish mob sells illegal drugs, a law enforcement agent states that a criminal used LSD 50 times in prison, a man in a men's room sniffs a small brown bottle of an unknown substance several times at once, and a woman tells two men that the police asked her if the two men were dealing drugs and she reports that she said no. A few men drink from beer bottles and one man drinks a short glass of whiskey in a neighborhood bar, two men in a hotel lounge drink short glasses of whiskey, two men each drink glasses of wine at lunch, six men sit at a short bar and we see bottles of liquor as the men argue and no one drinks, a few men drink whiskey and beer from glasses at a lounge, men drink from glasses of beer and a man drinks whiskey from a short glass in a café, adults in two dinner scenes drink from glasses of wine, a few men in a café drink from bottles of beer while a man drinks a cocktail, a man says that he sent several cases of wine to the FBI, a man in a club holds a short glass of alcohol and does not drink, a man at a kitchen table drinks from a glass of beer and a man drinks from a can of beer with two empty cans at his elbow, a man at a cookout drinks a bottle of beer, and two men at an office party drink champagne cocktails. Three men smoke cigarettes on a street corner, we see a photo of two men smoking cigarettes in a building doorway, a man smokes a cigar at a dinner table as well as on the street and in a club and in a car, a man smokes a cigarette in a club, a few men smoke cigarettes in offices, and a neighborhood bar contains a large cigarette machine in a semi-shadowed area.

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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Organized crime, Irish and Italian mobs, turf wars, FBI operations, war in Northern Ireland, illegal arms distribution, murder, racketeering, drug dealing, corruption, revenge, friendship, loyalty, respect, justice.
MESSAGE - Criminal informants can sometimes manipulate law enforcement agents.
CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.



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