Film Review: “Black Mass” by Blade Brown
Plot: The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
From the very trailer for this movie, I knew we were in for something special. For the first time in a very long time, it seems as if Johnny Depp is finally giving a quality performance. My assumption turned out to be true as Black Mass is arguably Depp’s strongest performance ever.
The film, directed by Scott Cooper (Out Of The Furnace, Crazy Heart), tells the story of James “Whitey” Bulger, one of the most notorious gangsters in Boston history. The film shows how he rose from being a small time criminal, to one of Boston’s biggest kingpins as he worked with the FBI as an informant, helping them bring down his rivals. In the role, Depp is plain menacing. He looks almost unrecognizable as Bulger, as his face, body and voice all make a big transformation. He commands the screen every time he’s on it and whoever he shares it with, can’t keep up with his presence.
But his costars aren’t chopped liver. He’s surrounded by an All-Star cast including Joel Edgerton (Warrior), Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock), Kevin Bacon (Wild Things), Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Corey Stoll (The Strain), Adam Scott (Step Brothers), Peter Sarsgaard (Jarhead) & Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey). Every actor is great in their roles, although some get significant less time than others. Dakota Johnson’s role of Lyndsay, the mother of Whitey’s son plays a small role, but a very important on as her actions contribute to him losing a lot of his heart. Edgerton’s character is an old childhood friend who’s responsible for the “alliance” between Whitey and the FBI. He feels loyal to his childhood friend and goes out of his way to turn a blind eye towards his actions during their alliance.
The film, much like classic gangster movies like Goodfellas shows no apologies for what it is. A harsh depiction of a ruthless crime boss who did whatever it takes to get what he wanted. He manipulated his friends and the FBI in order to seize control of the Boston underworld. The violence is brutal, and Whitey shows no remorse when dishing it out. At one point he tells someone who snitched on him “You’ve always got a choice. You just happened to make the wrong one”. Then he proceeds to strangle him to death. Depp hasn’t invested himself in a role this deeply since first becoming Jack Sparrow. And hopefully come awards time, he’ll get recognized with a well deserved nomination.
This is a great movie. The story is riveting and the performances are solid all across the board, especially Depp’s incredible showing. This could do for him what I believe “The Lincoln Lawyer” did for Matthew McConaughey a few years ago. Put him back on the right path and solidify him as one of the best working actors alive. Because this performances is one of the best in a long run of spectacular characters that Mr. Depp has given the world throughout his career. And trust me, regardless of his more recent films, that says a lot.
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