Film Review: Black Mass

Written by Tommy Tracy


Johnny Depp is the strangest anomaly in Hollywood, constantly taking awful roles and still being billed as a “great actor”. In recent memory, Mortdecai, Transcendence and The Tourist have all been incredibly underwhelming and Depp has looked ridiculous in all those roles. Not to mention The Lone Ranger, or what I like to call The Tonto Movie, because the Ranger himself was overshadowed by his sidekick because Depp needs to choose the most idiotic roles to portray. So to see him in Black Mass, playing infamous gangster, James “Whitey” Bulger, and look like he actually gives a damn again, is awesome. We all know Johnny Depp can be a GREAT actor when he wants to be but his recent activity has left me disappointed. Thankfully, Depp seems to care again and we have this film.

Black Mass pic 1

Again, Depp plays Bulger, a gangster known for his despicable actions of brutality and immoral behavior. Turning FBI informant is his next step and he hooks up with Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). Connolly plans to take down the mob, something that soon will cause his professional downfall. I do not want to divulge too far into the story because there are some things that should not be mentioned because of nice twists and visual glory. While there are some great moments that I don’t want to mention, the story does play a little hollow at times, and if you’re not paying full attention, you may miss a lot of key points.

Depp is incredible in this role. He is disgusting, dirty and absolutely an atrocious human being and I loved it. Everything he does, everything he says, matters. You hang off every action, wondering what he’s going to do next. You’ll shudder at times because the things he says are wrong and disgusting but it takes true talent to pull that off. Sadly, I think Depp has it in his contract that he must be covered in white facial appliances at all times. His face is a tad bit distracting and I sometimes wondered if he’d go into full Mad Hatter mode. Joel Edgerton, coming off his magnificent performance in this summer’s The Gift, is, again, fantastic in this role. I dare say he should get some Oscar love for both performances. Edgerton commands his screen time whenever he is there and you cannot look away. He’s tough but also out of his element and he can play both parts perfectly. Kevin Bacon is also great and darkly funny. The female roles, however, are mostly wasted. I would have liked to seen Dakota Johnson do some more with her role and maybe break out of my thought of her not being very good thanks to Fifty Shades of Grey.

So, was the movie good? Yeah, of course it was. It’s acted superbly (praying the Academy gives a nod to Edgerton), directed very well by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) and I can definitely see this squeaking into the Oscar’s for Best Adapted Screenplay. But I don’t see myself ever watching it again. It’s one of those rare feats a movie can do (I’m looking at you, Birdman) where you know you’re seeing a very good film but have no intention of seeing it again. And that’s what we get with Black Mass. By all means, see it, because it’s worth a look and I love how disgusting Depp was.

Final Grade: 7.5/10