We are all familiar with the whacky performances that Johnny Depp has turned in recent years. Depp undergoes dramatic physical transformations for his films, often doing this at the expense of a quality film. Black Mass, however, is not one of those films. Like other films, Depp sports a lot of makeup and even prosthetics, but, unlike them, he turns in one of the most disturbing and powerful performances of his career.
Black Mass focuses on the criminal career of James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) and the Winter Hill Gang, a Boston gang that had its hand in just about everything. His gangster status becomes complicated when John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) comes back to Boston with an edict to look into the crime plaguing the city. To complicate things more we discover that Whitey’s brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a State Senator. John and Billy turn their backs to the criminal activity of Whitey, not involving themselves in the darker side of his business… at first. As Whitey becomes increasingly dangerous, no one around him is safe.
The most talked about aspect of this film is, no doubt, Johnny Depp’s performance. It’s fairly challenging to see Depp under that makeup and that proves important because the audience becomes lost in his performance. Depp is unsettling and a master at creating an atmosphere of tension in his scenes. He is also intimidating, which brings another disturbing aspect of the film. The violence is intimate and calculating, unlike blockbuster films that pay no mind to the countless deaths in their stories. Black Mass shows the dark side of human nature, whether that is through the violence or the motives behind these characters.
While many will focus on Depp’s performance, I walked out of Black Mass praising the ensemble cast. And, let me tell you: it’s a star-studded cast. Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Corey Stoll, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Plemons, Adam Scott; all talented actors that propel the story forward alongside Depp. I will admit, though, there were times that felt dull and sluggish. But, these moments make the violent and tense moments that much more interesting.
Weirdly enough, with it’s two hour run time, the film ends rather abruptly, as if they couldn’t finish it due to some unknown restraints. Instead, the audience must read what ends up happening with these characters. This was kind of a letdown. Still, Black Mass delivers what is promised: a Johnny Depp comeback story.
Does Black Mass deserve an Oscar? Let us know in the comments.