“It’s not what you do, it’s when and where you do it, and who you do it to or with. If nobody sees it, it didn’t happen.”
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons
Synopsis: Criminal mastermind James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) oversaw a decades long reign over Boston’s underworld. When Joel Egerton’s FBI agent John Connolly strikes a deal with Bulger to trade information, little does he know the depths he will be dragged, and drag himself to as Bulger’s empire grows ever stronger.
As nice as it is to see Johnny Depp actually acting again for the first time in what seems like an age, Black Mass isn’t quite able to fulfill the potential that the film’s star-studded cast and fascinating-yet-terrifying lead character promise. What was perhaps aiming to be a new generation’s Goodfellas proves to be little more than Goodfellas light. It’s a gangster film which knows its genre history, but seems to be striving to replicate rather than innovate.
Yet it does replicate well enough. The cogs of the film are well oiled, the production design impresses and the makeup department certainly earn their keep with some impressive if distracting transformations for Breaking Bad’s Jesse Plemons and Johnny Depp’s ageing mob boss.
Unfortunately though, it feels like Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth’s screenplay doesn’t scratch deep enough beneath the surface of the complex person that Whitey Bulger was.
There are moments of notably engaging film making, but they simply aren’t regular enough to boost Black Mass to anything more than a middle-of-the-road gangster movie where Johnny Depp looks like a vampire. A vampire putting on his best performance in a decade, at the least.
Rating (out of 5):