Black Mass Movie Review

Ever since I saw the teaser trailer for Black Mass, I wondered if it would be the return of the movie star, Johnny Depp. I’ve been waiting for said return for years. The Hollywood superstar began catching the eyes of audiences in the late 80s. He became a heartthrob, and shortly after he would start delivering some incredible performances. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ed Wood, Donnie Brasco. Depp was becoming one of the best actors of our time. Blow and Pirates of the Caribbean would follow.

Joel Edgerton and Johnny Depp in Black Mass

Joel Edgerton and Johnny Depp in Black Mass

After Pirates, he became a global phenomenon. But as the years went on, the performances got weaker. It seemed he was more worried about cool makeup and crazy outfits than actually delivering a moving performance. Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, and the worst of all, Mortdecai. That’s right, it was earlier this year when Depp hand delivered one of the worst movies/performances I’ve ever seen. But just months later, I’m happy to announce—Johnny Depp is back.

 Black Mass tells the story of James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp), an Irish crime boss out of Massachusetts, and his “alliance” with the FBI. Whitey became an informant in 1975, working with childhood friend John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), to take down the rival Italian mob in South Boston. By supplying the FBI with information on the Italian mob, Whitey and The Winter Hill Gang would do just about anything they wanted. The film is based on the 2001 book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob.

This is not only Depp’s best performance in nearly ten years but possibly one of his best performances ever. Depp loses himself in the villain that is Whitey Bulger, his face and his celebrity disappears. To look into those pale-grey eyes is to look in the eyes of the Devil himself. The actor who played Captain Jack isn’t visible in the slightest. Cooper wisely constantly puts Bulger in the shadows, giving him the feeling of a real boogeyman. But it isn’t until later in the film, when he confronts a character’s wife, that we realize that this what a monster he really is.

Director Scott Cooper’s latest film is driven by powerful performances on all fronts. It is well-crafted and well-paced, but it’s the acting that makes this movie strive. Even the smallest roles pack a pretty heavy punch. Benedict Cumberbatch, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson, Rory Cochrane, and Kevin Bacon all deliver great performances, while not having huge roles. The most shocking thing about the acting, is watching Joel Edgerton give a performance that equals Depp’s. It’s so great, I wanted to see more of him, as the crime biopic on Bulger progressed.

The issue with the picture is that Black Mass depends on the performance of Depp to carry the picture. The plot isn’t tight, so it is more about the audience spending time with Bulger, which creates a lack of stake in the film. There isn’t a place to put really invest our emotions or our time. Especially since Bulger doesn’t ever change. He’s a constant. Now, if the film would have focused on Connolly (Edgerton’s character), then we have a real arch. The audience gets to see the character change, but we don’t get to focus on it, had we been able to do that I believe Black Mass would have been a masterpiece.

3.5 out of 4 stars

-By Jacob Tiranno

Here is our review for the other movie that came out this week: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials 

In case you missed our video review for this week, check it out below:


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  1. […] Here is our review for the other movie that came out this week: Black Mass […]

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