Dir.: Scott Cooper
Starring: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon and Dakota Johnson
Johnny Depp is back… not that he truly went anywhere, but in what just so happens to be one of his prime performances in the recent leg of his career, Depp reminds the disillusioned audiences that he still is highly capable of awe-inspiring performances. As real-life gangster/generally awful psychopath extraordinaire James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, there is not a single hint of Captain Jack Sparrow or any Burtonian alumni to be seen, what you have is a terrifying, off-putting, nauseating, stay-the-hell-away-from-me piece of carbon-breathing lunatic who will do everything it takes to fight his way to the zenith of the crime ladder while at the same time sweet-talking and violating moral and social mores thanks to his underhanded interactions with the law. One of the most disturbing themes about Black Mass is how difficult it is to separate where the law starts and ends when it comes to deep-digging crime. For all of it’s fantastic performances, what ultimately brings the film down is how by the numbers the plot feels and how it mostly feels coldly obligatory rather than wholly interested in indulging audience engagement. While I am unsure if this is what Cooper as a film-maker intended I have no notion, but with a stellar cast such as this and competent directing, this film could have been longer, meatier and filled with scofflaw goodness. A shame because despite being a movie that spans decades of corruption and horror, it’s self-imposed truncation is far more a hinderance than a benefit.