Favorite

Review: Black Mass 

click to enlarge black-mass.png

BLACK MASS

***

DIRECTED BY Scott Cooper

STARS Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton

Do mine eyes deceive me? Is that Johnny Depp delivering an actual performance in Black Mass, his first genuine example of emoting in many a year?

And he’s doing it under a mountain of makeup, the sort of latex overload that generally provides him with carte blanche to do nothing more than mug shamelessly for the camera?

It’s nice to have the talented thespian with us once more, even if his stay proves to be a short one (after all, he has both an Alice in Wonderland sequel and an umpteenth Pirates of the Caribbean yarn in the post-production stages).

Practically unrecognizable with that bald pate and those blue-sky contact lenses, Depp projects ferocious intensity as real-life crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, whose Trivial Pursuit claim to fame is that he spent over a decade as the #2 man on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list, right under some fellow named Osama bin Laden.

Through this feature film – arriving a mere year after Joe Berlinger’s documentary Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger – we’re privy to the activities that lead to his wanted status, including murder and racketeering, and we watch as he builds an empire with the help of the FBI.

Or, to be specific, with the help of one particular agent: John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who grew up with Bulger in South Boston and has allowed his childhood admiration to seep into his honorable career and poison it. Connolly urges his fellow agents (Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott and David Harbour) at the Bureau to allow Bulger to get away with minor offenses in exchange for damning information regarding the Italian mob competing against Bulger’s Irish faction.

Of course, Bulger has no intention of playing by the rules, and he manages to commit more and greater crimes while feeding the Bureau useless intel.

Indeed, it’s the presence of Edgerton’s character which allows Black Mass to play as more than just an also-ran in the “mob movie” sweepstakes. In many ways, Connolly is just as immoral as Bulger, ratting out informants (who, of course, are then killed) to stay in the gangster’s good graces and even putting their relationship above those he enjoys with his friends at the Bureau and with his own wife (Julianne Nicholson).

Edgerton plays the part with the right mix of braggadocio and unctuousness, strutting with a skewered sense of self-purpose yet unable to completely conceal the flop sweat triggered by his underhanded moves. He provides a nice counterpart to Depp’s steely menace, and with both actors further supported by a stellar supporting roster (Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger’s politician brother, Corey Stoll as a no-nonsense district attorney, Peter Sarsgaard as a twitchy small-time hood, and many more), Black Mass ably demonstrates that there’s still some life left in a genre that, just when we think we’re out, pulls us back in.

Trailer


Now Playing

Sorry there are no upcoming showtimes for Black Mass

Favorite

More by Matt Brunson

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Connect Today 03.24.2017

Latest in Film Reviews

  • Review: Beauty and the Beast
  • Review: Beauty and the Beast

    The plot remains fundamentally unchanged from the ’91 model, and the narrative diversions that have been added along the way are acceptable and sometimes even manage to enhance particular points from its predecessor.
    • Mar 21, 2017
  • Review: Logan
  • Review: Logan

    The film is crucially missing a worthy villain of note – and when the scripters run out of ideas, they paraphrase Stephen Sondheim and elect to send in the clones. This latter decision renders the action sequences even more rote and less interesting.
    • Mar 7, 2017
  • Review: A United Kingdom
  • Review: A United Kingdom

    As is often the case with historical sagas, the picture relegates lots of fascinating material into a few blocks of text at the end, giving short shrift to the subsequent accomplishments of two people who refused to be defined merely by their physical appearances.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • More »

The Most: Read | Shared | Comments

Movies This Week

More Filmtimes

or

Right Now On: Twitter | Facebook

Copyright © 2017, Connect Savannah. All Rights Reserved.
Website powered by Foundation