The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, Mortdecai – dare I list anymore of Johnny Depp’s recent film misfires? So it’s no secret that Depp hasn’t been choosing the best films recently, his performances are rarely questioned but he hasn’t had much luck with the films he’s featured in. Due to this I have never really been a fan of his, I recognise his talents but I find it hard to appreciate them when surrounded by lower quality content. Black Mass looked like the potential revival that Depp so desperately needed.
Very simply Black Mass is the true story of Whitey Bulger (Depp) and his criminal activity predominately in Boston. This film is a refreshing burst of quality compared to Depp’s recent filmography. The film consistently tells the story well, conveying all of the relevant information to the viewer effectively. This can be difficult for films with such content as FBI, gangsters, informants, bribes etc. Things could have easily got a little confusing but this is never the case which means Black Mass is always easy to follow but also engaging. The engagement lasts throughout the two hour running time but any longer and the film could have been in trouble. The reason being is that simply we’ve seen this gangster movie before, countless times. This would have been even more of a criticism if Black Mass hadn’t have been executed so well, which thankfully means that even though we’ve seen the story before it is still interesting and entertaining to watch. The film is divided up nicely and very clearly into three acts which helps the viewer to gauge where in the story they are and the other story telling techniques are used well too.
Johnny Depp brings much of his talent to this role, he is utterly convincing in every moment of the film. He brings aggression and intimidation in equal measure but also exhibits a softer side at times which the role demanded. Black Mass has an impressive cast even with Depp set aside though. Others featuring in the movie include; Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll and Dakota Johnson. All of these actors and actresses perform very well creating a fantastic ensemble cast. However, the actor who stole the show for me was Joel Edgerton. Fresh from acting, writing and directing The Gift earlier in the year here Edgerton plays FBI man John Connolly. If I’m honest I feel like Edgerton has the most screen time, more so even than Depp himself. This is no complaint though as Edgerton’s performance was such a pleasure to watch, he like Depp was very convincing and he plays his very interesting character down to a tee. Personally, his performance was what I enjoyed most about Black Mass. Maybe I’m a little biased as I am a big fan of his but he constantly impresses me with his work in film and Black Mass is testament to this.
Black Mass is a fairly by the numbers gangster biopic, but it’s done very well which masks the unoriginality of the film. The intricate story is always told well and thanks to a brilliant cast this is only ever enhanced. Depp makes a return to form here but is slightly overshadowed, as for me at least, Edgerton completely steals the show.
Rating – 8.5/10