Johnny Depp scares and delights in an impressive comeback to a serious role in the character of Whitey Bulger. The most violent criminal to walk the streets of South Boston incredibly got away with his murderous and corrupt ways by being an informer to the FBI to take down other criminals in Boston. Special Agent John Connolly played by Joel Edgerton was a childhood friend of Whitey Bulger, and he was the one who set up the partnership to look out for each other’s business. If it wasn’t Whitey tipping off John Connolly of a drug deal hitting the streets, it would be Connolly warning Bulger of an apparent hit on the mobsters head. This incredibly close relationship between FBI agent and mobster is amazing to watch; ‘Black Mass’ shows the true side of Boston residents by displaying their desire to be loyal. No matter the person, loyalty is the most important aspect to these characters, until you cross the line that is.
Johnny Depp is terrific as Bulger and deserves his plaudits for his role as the untouchable mobster. Depp has Bulger down to a T; the walk, the talk and general mannerisms are what make the performance genuine. Due to his recent work in many Disney pictures, Depp had lost his identity as an actor and it has always been frustrating to me. Especially due to the fact that I love his performance in ‘Donnie Brasco’, so to see him back doing the work he should be doing is good. Surrounded by a terrific supporting cast including the brilliant Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Kevin Bacon joining in the fun every now and then; having this strong ensemble makes every part of the film hugely enjoyable to watch.
The only part that lets ‘Black Mass’ down is its failure to hit fifth gear. Throughout we are teased and teased to see the film hit higher heights but it never seems to get past its steady pace. Rarely did I feel shocked or surprised as to what was happening on screen. It’s fairly predictable, but I really don’t think it would be if the pacing of the film was racked up a little higher to make it more dramatic. ‘Black Mass’ isn’t the greatest gangster movie you will see and it will disappoint many people who will see the film, but I thoroughly enjoyed it too. I enjoyed the conversation and performances of the ensemble, and that helped incredibly along the way. Pacing is its real big and only issue.
Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton shine together on screen and really pull great performances out of the bag of what could have been a really average film. ‘Black Mass’ gets 4 out of 5 stars.