- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A legendary hero and real life villain star in the best of Blu-ray releases available this week.

Black Mass (Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Rated R, $35.99, 123 minutes) — Johnny Depp became James “Whitey” Bulger, the infamous leader of Boston ‘s Winter Hill Gang, in an edgy crime drama directed by Scott Cooper last year.

The movie’s high-definition release now gives viewers the chance to further appreciate Mr. Depp’s chilling immersion into the real-life role and the exploration of a twisted alliance between the Irish mobster and the FBI back in the 1970s and 1980s.

That association and subsequent criminal exploits of Bulger plays out with a mix of “Goodfellas” and the Bostonian version of “The Sopranos” as the informant takes full advantage of a family friendship with Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) to keep his organization growing.

A cast also featuring Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s brother Billy, Dakota Johnson as Lindsey Cyr (the mother of Bulger’s son) and Jesse Plemons as henchman Kevin Weeks reinforces the gritty urban action and supports Mr. Depp performance as the crafty, sometimes insanely violent and unrepentant thug.

Extras deliver exactly what I was hoping for to complement the movie — specifically, a documentary on the details of the 16-year-long manhunt for Bulger, not heavily covered in the story.


SEE ALSO: Blu-ray reviews: ‘Our Brand is Crisis,’ ‘Rock the Kasbah’ and ‘Suffragette’


The hourlong piece offers surveillance footage, vintage photos of the Winter Hill Gang and interviews with Boston reporters and many of the local, state and federal law enforcement officials (including the lead arresting officer, Los Angeles Special Agent Scott Garriola), who were tasked with finding one of the FBI’s most-wanted criminals. Suffice to report, it’s the perfect capper for the film.

Other extras include a 12-minute interview with Mr. Cooper, Mr. Depp and make-up artist Joel Harlow discussing the actor becoming Bulger and a 23-minute overview of the production.

Spectre (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $39.99, 148 minutes) — The 24th James Bond film found actor Daniel Craig donning the super-spy persona for the fourth time and gave viewers another long-winded, adventure tied to yet another evil genius out to destroy 007.

This sequel to the 2012 film “Skyfall” makes it to Blu-ray and certainly does not disappoint with all of the elements expected in a good Bond film spread out over locations such as Mexico City, London, Rome, Austria, Tangier and an evil lair in an undisclosed part of North Africa.

Those classic action elements include escaping a crumbling buildings, a harrowing foot chase, multiple firefights, an out-of-control helicopter, a car chase, Bond torture, multiple discrete liaisons with attractive women, a plane crash, close quarters combat with a near indestructible henchman, a frantic rescue attempt and a couple of really big explosions.

Christoph Waltz shines as the legendary Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Although the evil genius and head of SPECTRE is not portrayed to amuse, fans of Austin Powers will appreciate his antics and style.

Viewers can fast-forward past the uninspired and insipid theme song “Writing’s on the Wall,” yodeled by Sam Smith over the opening credits that feature a collage of characters menaced by a giant octopus.

Despite enjoying the latest Bond thrill ride, I consider “Spectre” a rental at best due to a disappointing set of extras.

These are limited to a 20-minute, behind-the-scenes deconstruction of the “Day of the Dead” action scene that focused too much on costuming and pageantry and not enough on the practical effects and helicopter acrobatics, and nine minutes of previously released video blogs.

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