Johnny Depp gives one of the best performances in decades as one of the most terrifying villains of the year even if Black Mass sometimes doesn’t captivates you as much as it should.
The story pans decades of the life of notorious gangster Whitey Bulger who evaded the FBI for years and got away with multiple crimes while he was also an informant to the police.
Johnny Depp is the bright spot of this film and gives the best performance in the entire movie. He’s creepy, slimy, mean and just completely insane. Johnny Depp completely disappears in the role and inhabits the persona of the character perfectly. He’s completely covered in make-up, as usual, for sure, but he totally embodies the character to the point where I no longer saw Johnny Depp on-screen. Yeah. He’s that good.
The performances of the cast are all across the board great. Joel Edgerton is fantastic as this corrupt cop who is allied with Whitey. With this year’s The Gift and now this movie, Edgerton proves once again that he is tremendous talent and will have a bright and long career.
Benedict Cumberbatch is really good as Whitey’s brother, who is a congressman but doesn’t get involved in his brother’s illegal dealings. He has an Irish accent and you can tell that it’s not his real accent but he doesn’t do a bad job of imitating it.
Black Mass however fails to maintain a intriguing enough story and meanders. There is no character that is redeemable or “good person” that you can latch on too or care about. Johnny Depp plays a terrible person and deserves whatever he has coming for him and the dialogue wasn’t all that interesting for me to care about what was happening compared to other gangster movies like Goodfellas and The Departed which brings me to the direction by Scott Cooper, who also directed Out of the Furnace, which was a decent be it depressing film.
The direction is fine but the movie lacked suspense. We barely see the investigation happening and when it is it is it’s not as interesting as you want it to be. You kind of see it but it happens near the last act of the movie and that was a real missed opportunity.
Black Mass is extremely violent and isn’t for the lighthearted. It gets extremely dark at times and it’s almost as if Scott Cooper wanted to showcase how psychopathic Whitey was instead of concentrating on his criminal operations, which we end up knowing very little about. Sometimes that works, but sometimes the violence is just in your face and you kind of start expecting it since they shove it so much at you.
The pacing was a bit off and the sometimes and it is a very hallow movie since there are no good guys to root for which is kind of a big issue.
Overall, Johnny Depp gives an Oscar worthy performance, and the supporting cast all made the experience worth it and I was glad that I saw Black Mass even if it is a bit forgettable and doesn’t have an emotional anchor that it needed to keep the story interesting and moving along at a coherent pace.