IS JOHNNY DEPP BACK? WELL IN SHORT…YES, BUT HIS STANDOUT PERFORMANCE IS IN A MOVIE THAT IS SO CLOSE TO BEING GREAT, THAT IT’S FRUSTRATING TO WATCH AS THE FILM BREEZES THROUGH THE CHECKLIST OF TYPICAL PLOT POINTS THAT YOU CAN FIND IN ANY STANDARD GANGSTER MOVIE. BLACK MASS WHICH SUCCEEDS IN BEING JUST OKAY, FEELS LIKE THE MOVIE IS MORE INTERESTED IN REMINDING US OF JOHNNY DEPP’S ACTING CHOPS THEN TELLING A GRIPPING STORY OF THIS GANGSTER LEGEND.
Based on the true story, and adapted from the book of the same name, Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) directs the script by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow and Spectre) and an all star cast of Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch in a film that chronicles the rise and fall of the legendary, murderous, sociopath gangster named James “Whitey” Bugler.
This is gonna be a hard film to review.
Let me preface by saying this, Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton are incredible and should be considered for Oscar nominations, now whether or not they can sustain the heavy competition in this upcoming Oscar race reminds to be seen. I just wish they were in a film that was equal to the incredible talent that these two are giving. The movie chronicles roughly, 20 years of the infamous Whitey Bugler’s reign in Boston and throughout the 2hr and 10min runtime nothing that’s happening on screen is even remotely interesting as the two performances being giving by both Depp and Edgerton.
In fact the film suffers from a formula that is basically boils down to, Depp finds out one of many people working for him has either talked to the FBI or has gotten outta line and then he kills them, the FBI get tipped off, investigate and try to convict Bulger, but Edgerton’s character reminds them that Depp is a invaluable informant. Rinse and repeat.
After a while it gets repetitive and sometimes down right droll, even thinking about the movie now makes me kind of bored. If not for the incredibly and oddly darkly comedic performance Johnny Depp is giving the movie would be a complete write off.
So let’s talk about Depp shall we? As stated before he’s great, the makeup is a bit distracting at times in that it makes him look more like a vampire than a crime lord, but Depp gives much attention to the performance and characters mannerisms to hold everything together. Embracing the unsettling charisma that embodied Bulger, Depp helps the character rise above what would have read as very one not on the pages of script.
There are many scenes where Depp as Bugler fills the situations with immense tension but they are few and far between. Other than Depp’s scene grabbing performance the events revolving around his character are all but less interesting, not much of the stuff the script gives Bugler to do is interesting enough to keep your interest as the film plods along.
While Depp is engaging if it were not for Joel Edgerton as FBI Detective John Connolly who recruits Depp’s Bulger to be an FBI informant the film would have been just one note, but thank goodness for Edgerton who almost steals the movie from Depp as John Connolly. Edgerton plays the detective which enough nuance to help Depp hold the movie together.
Besides those two, the film isn’t anything all that memorable or even all that interesting. Some other notable actors like Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott and Corey Stoll pop on the screen once awhile to remind you that they too are in the movie as does Benedict Cumberbatch who feels a little out of place despite having a really great Boston accent.
Besides great performances from it two most interesting characters, the film itself suffers from a pale script and a plodding like pace under a workman like direction, which is a shame because I was extremely excited to see this movie.