Review 91: Black Mass (2015)
I would love to say I’m a Johnny Depp fan because the films I’ve taken the time to watch that he is in he is usually good. However, I’ve avoided every film that has been poorly received like “The Lone Ranger,” “Transcendence,” and “Mortdecai,” and to really be a fan I think you watch them all. Nonetheless, I went in expecting to like Black Mass and it didn’t let me down landing firmly in the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
Black Mass is the true story of James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) and his manipulation of his informant status with the FBI to take down a Mafia family. Then follows his rise to power and the reputation as one of the most violent criminal in the history of South Boston.
The film is full of known actors alongside Depp is Matt Damon, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Adam Scott, and Corey Stoll. My favorite performances fall to Depp who’s almost unrecognizable when you first see him, but eventually it becomes clear who it is. It is one of the darkest characters I recall seeing him play. Edgerton is great as FBI agent John Connolly and the interactions between Bulger and Connolly are probably the best in the film.
I feel I definitely need to point out how great the production of this film was. The makeup work alone on Matt Damon and Johnny Depp was award worthy. The transformation of the characters was pretty impressive added on top of the late 70’s and 80’s Boston setting.
Even though Bulger is depicted as probably psychotic, they manage to show some good sides to his character. The people he takes care of are treated very well and there seems to be a strong sense of obligation to those people. However, people who fail him tend to wind up on the psychotic side rather quickly. The story is overall very compelling and Scott Cooper and the writers did a good job of building the story and keeping it around 2hrs.
While the film was entertaining enough, it did seems like a wannabe “The Departed,” or “Goodfellas,” making me wonder what this film would have been if Scorsese got his hands on it. The Boston setting and informant mob boss reminds me a lot of the departed, and Edgerton reminded me of Ray Liotta a few times in the film. I would definitely recommend renting this one, especially if you’re a fan of crime films.