Black Mass Review

Finally, Johnny Depp sheds all the ridiculous make-up and extravagances for a pair a contacts, a [...]

Finally, Johnny Depp sheds all the ridiculous make-up and extravagances for a pair a contacts, a receding hairline, and a most sinister role. This weekend, he takes on the true story James "Whitey" Bulger, the mad leader of the Winter Hill Gang in 1970's Boston, giving us the closest thing to his Blow performance we could ask for.

Depp dives in to the James "Whitey" Bulger role in menacing fashion. From start to finish, we watch Whitey charm the old ladies of the neighborhood and ruthlessly murder those who question him almost simultaneously. Never once does his Southie accent miss a stroke. His Bulger character is the closest we've come to recreating the magic from Blow since Depp has gone the route of make-up buckets and wild traits too many times over the past decade. A few scenes, including a dinner table intimidation similar to that of Joe Pesci's "Funny How?" in Goodfellas and Whitey using a rifle to psychotically gun down a traitor in a public parking lot, will mark Depp's performance as the most memorable aspect of Black Mass.

While Depp's performance is second to none, the same won't be said about Black Mass. Scott Cooper's gangster film, while quite good, never actually sets itself apart from previous thrilling Boston crime flicks such as The Town or The Departed. Its trailers feature the fast pace, bass thumping music of Rick Ross paired with action, but in reality Black Mass is so grounded and dedicated to presenting its characters that it feels more like a documentary than the thrilling action movie it has been advertised as being.

Although the action advertised in the trailers feels to be slightly absent, it is made up for with a rare currency in films today: characters. Not only is Depp's crime lord seen rising to his own deterioration, but Edgerton's John Connelly is transformed in a pitiful yet somehow understandable manner. A man who starts out as a promising FBI agent quickly spirals out of control as he succumbs to the extravagant lifestyle Whitey has to offer. Black Mass owes major credit to its supporting cast for feeling so gritty. While we may have found the first thing Benedict Cumberbatch can't perfect consistently - a Boston accent - Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, Jesse Plemons and the rest help make Black Mass exactly what it is: an abrasive story of corruption and murder. Character development wasn't limited to those who were on screen from beginning to end, though. Dakota Johnson, who briefly played the estranged mother of Whitey's child made a significant ripple in the film, while the actress proved she has more to offer than her Fifty Shades of Grey part.

It may not feel like it while watching, but looking back, the head count in Black Mass is very high. A run time of just over two hours where at no point are you sure who to root for keeps Black Mass from raising the bar on gangster flicks. It features most of the elements which made the previous gangster films amazing but that's the problem - we've seen them all before. There are no surprising moments or anything we haven't seen before in Black Mass, it's just a rehashed and relocated version of previously epic gangster tales.

Cooper submits a run in the mill gangster film with Black Mass. It's nothing more but nothing less than enough to leave people walking out saying, "That was good." Similar to Cooper's effort with Out Of The Furnace, he treats audiences to some remarkable performances but never truly throws an equally remarkable plot their way. Black Mass is, however, more exciting and enthralling than Out Of The Furnace with its natural intrigue and sporadic intensity.

Bottom Line: Johnny Depp clocks in for a remarkably terrifying and charmingly sinister performance in an indifferent entry to the gangster film genre: Black Mass. 7.3/10