Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Black Mass’ (2015)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Making a deal with one Satan whom you hope will decimate another devil is never a good idea. The maneuver, preposterous as it sounds, is at the heart of the appropriately named Black Mass, a liturgy that turns everything good and holy face down staring at the Underworld.

Directed by Scott Cooper, Black Mass is set in South Boston where, in 1975, the Winter Hill Gang, led by real life local criminal James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp), is untouchable. In contrast, his younger brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an respected elected official. And the brothers’ childhood friend, John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), is an FBI agent whose only goal is to bring down the Italian mafia operating in North Boston.

To effect his objective, Connolly proposes the alliance-with-Satan plan to his colleagues (David Harbour and Adam Scott) and supervisor (Kevin Bacon). In exchange for relevant information from Bulger about the mafia, the FBI operatives will allow Bulger and his goons to engage in their brand of criminality with impunity.

In the years that follow, Bulger’s increased paranoia about disloyalty radically ups his Plutonic traits, including  manipulation, control, power and revenge. Although Black Mass moves in simple linear fashion, the movie’s center is a swirl of power plays, including ones by Bulger’s henchmen (Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane) who finally turn against him.

As Bulger says, Southie kids played cops-and-robbers in the playground, but now the playground has turned real.

Make that the devil’s playground.

Archetypes: Tyrant. Murderer. Underworld. Criminal. Manipulator.

Astrology Archetypes: ♇ (Pluto)

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