Skip to main content

Dan's Review: Depp makes "Black Mass" worth seeing

Sep 21, 2015 05:27PM, Published by Dan Metcalf, Categories: Arts+Entertainment Movie Reviews


Joel Edgerton and Johnny Depp in Black Mass - © 2014 Warner Bros.



Black Mass (Warner Bros.)

Rated R for brutal violence, language throughout, some sexual references and brief drug use.

Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, David Harbour, Rory Cochrane, Julianne Nicholson, James Russo, Adam Scott, Jeremy Strong, Brad Carter, W. Earl Brown, Juno Temple, Erica McDermott, Berglind Jónsdóttir, Bill Camp, Scott Anderson, Patrick M. Walsh, David De Black, Jamie Donnelly.

Written by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk.

Directed by Scott Cooper.

GRADE: B+

REVIEW:

For actors, bad guys are always fun to play. Maybe it’s cathartic or maybe it allows artists to embrace their dark side, but being a cold-hearted killer is a feather in the cap for most actors. Johnny Depp gets to be as bad as he wants to be in Black Mass, the biopic tale of the very real James “Whitey” Bulger, a Boston crime boss who ruled the streets in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

The story of Whitey Bulger goes much deeper than a 2-hour movie could give due diligence. The movie begins some time after Bulger’s release from the federal prison system as he rises to the top of the notorious Winter Hill Gang in Boston’s south side. At the same time, an old schoolmate named John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), comes calling, asking Whitey to become an informant against his rival gang, the Angiulos.  The Connolly/Whitey alliance nets results, bringing down the Angiulos and making a hero out of the FBI. In the meantime, Whitey and his associates are left alone by the feds and free to carry out their crimes. Whitey’s trusted circle includes Steve Flemmi (Rory Cochrane), Kevin Weeks (Jesse Plemons) and favorite hitman Johnny Matarano (W. Earl Brown). Interestingly, Whitey’s brother is none other than William Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) president of the Massachusetts State Senate.

As Whitey’s crimes mount, honest folks inside and outside the FBI begin to take notice, and Connolly’s arrangement with the crime lord begins to fall apart.

Black Mass is a movie that lives up to its dark title, especially in terms of the number brutal and graphic murders that happen onscreen. While writers Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk embellished on the facts surrounding Bulger’s reign of terror, the basic essence of Black Mass is intense, if not a little depressing. I suppose the biggest source of tension is wondering who’s going to get shot in the head at any given time, without warning.

Black Mass’ biggest asset is the performance of Depp, who (with the help of some creepy contact lenses) gives you chills as he becomes a crazed and vicious killer without remorse. It’s one of the better portrayals of Depp’s career, at least since his initial run at Jack Sparrow in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.

If there’s a downfall to Black Mass and the story of Bulger (who went on the run for 16 years until his arrest in 2011), it’s the casual means by which his empire crumbles, leaving audiences feeling a little more than anticlimactic. If you want a better picture of Whitey Bulger and his unholy alliance with the FBI, I’d recommend renting the documentary Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014).



Black Mass Trailer



movies movie reviews Crime


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/21/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/24/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


It looks like we don't have any events for this date. You can always add an event.

  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/26/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/21/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • theBRIDGE Church Grand Opening!

    07/23/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us this Sunday at 10am @ the Daybreak Community Center in South Jordan, UT!


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/24/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/26/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/28/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Guest Author Liv Bartlet

    07/29/2017
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    Twenty-nine-year-old artistic prodigy Kat Porter has golden statues on her career horizon until s...


  • theBRIDGE Church Grand Opening!

    07/30/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us this Sunday at 10am @ the Daybreak Community Center in South Jordan, UT!


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    07/31/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Monday Family Night

    07/31/2017
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Pack a picnic and spend a summer evening exploring the diversity in our community. Traditional Af...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    08/02/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • VIP event - Free Treatments & $30 Gift Card

    08/03/2017
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    join us for our VIP event on thursday, august 3rd from 6-9pm. all attendees receive a complime...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    08/04/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Dash for Donation Race

    08/05/2017
    08:00AM — 10:00AM

    Join us for a 5K fun run and 2K walk at beautiful Sugar House Park on Saturday, August 5th. Regi...


  • theBRIDGE Church Grand Opening!

    08/06/2017
    10:00AM — 11:30AM

    Join us this Sunday at 10am @ the Daybreak Community Center in South Jordan, UT!


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    08/07/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


  • Monday Family Night

    08/07/2017
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Pack a picnic and spend a summer evening exploring the diversity in our community. Music and danc...


  • FIT4MOM Murray Stroller Strides

    08/09/2017
    09:00AM — 10:00AM

    FIT4MOM, the nation’s largest fitness program for new moms, has arrived in Murray. Stroller Strid...


 

 

Online Edition
Follow My City Journals on Facebook
Advertise with us

 

City Journals 9500 South 500 West, Suite 205, Sandy, Utah 84070 801.254.5974