Black Mass Review

Return of the Gangster

For the past few years, it seems like all Johnny Depp has wanted to do is movies on the sillier side of things. That’s a shame because his work on more gritty films like Blow or Public Enemies is fantastic. Because of that, Black Mass seemed very intriguing. Not only would this be a return to form for the once stellar actor, but the story itself is one that’s made for the big screen.

The Story

Black Mass follows the true story of “Whitey” Bulger; a notorious Boston gangster who ran much of the crime in the city during his time in power in the 70’s and had the FBI in his back pocket. Depp’s character here was ruthless. He’s determined to run Boston and anyone who stands in his way gets “Whacked.” There’s nothing better than a good, violent gangster movie (excluding an epic superhero movie), but this one seemed more generic than expected. There were no surprises or anything to make this one stand out from the countless others.

The tone of the film, the way it was shot, the tension between the characters were all stellar though. Dialogue was another strong suit. There was a particular scene (that happened to be released well before the movie to promote it) where Bulger is eating dinner with a couple FBI agents that is a perfect example of this. Without spoiling too much, he basically intimidates an agent out of giving up the family secret recipe of the main course, then calls into question his ability to keep his mouth shut. It was just one of numerous stand-out moments.

The Cast

Depp does a great job as Bulger and is almost unrecognizable in his appearance, but he’s not the only thing Black Mass has going for it. He’s surrounded be a great supporting cast here too. Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch and Joel Egerton all play essential roles as well. While none of them truly jump off the screen, they didn’t get in the way either. They all nailed the 70’s Boston thing too.

The Verdict

This was a cool movie, just not as good as the likes of Donnie Brasco, Blow or Public Enemies. With that said, this is a step back in the right direction for Depp. Let’s hope he continues to take on these types of roles. Director Scott Cooper has a nice little streak going with his first few flicks. After this addition, It’ll be interesting to see what he does next. If you’re into gangster movies, this one is worth a watch.