Johnny Depp Scorches the Big Screen As Whitey Bulger
Although perhaps not as infamous on these shores as he is in America, there can be no mistaking that James “Whitey” Bulger was a monster who terrorised Boston during the latter part of the 20th century.
Bulger, following his Bostonian reign of terror was considered No.2 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, preceded by only Osama Bin Laden.
So far, so gangster I hear you say, however the difference between this gangster and the others that haunted America, was that Bulger terrorised Boston, with not only the blessing of the FBI but with their (alleged) help.
Johnny Depp returns to form, lighting up the screen as one of Americas most hideous gangsters. His performance is so effective and captivating that whenever Depp disappears from screen, Black Mass has a black “Johnny Depp” shaped hole. Rather than being a criticism of the movie or the other actors. Johnny Depp simply simply captivates and paralyses with his on screen portrayal of Bulger.
With a cast featuring Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton and Dakota Johnson amongst other prestigious members Johnny Depp “the star” diasppears and simply becomes the “Black Mass” of the picture.
With a story, that if not factual, would be called out for being too far fetched, features Cumberbatch as William Bulger, Whitey Bulger’s older brother (whom also happened to be a congressman) and Edgerton as John Connolly, one of the FBI’s rising stars. Edgerton and the Bulger brothers, lifelong friends after growing up on the mean streets of Boston literally doors apart.
Edgerton’s Connolly, whether it be naivety or a more ruthless career progression, is given free reign to set up a pact with Bulger, (a proverbial deal with the Devil.) This in return for bringing down the Mafia who terrorised Boston.
Connolly believes he can control Bulger through misguided loyalty, but Bulger like the manipulative psychopath he is simply views it as a chance to rid the city of his biggest crime rivals and rule over Boston unimpeded.
One scene in particular with Whitey Bulger and Connolly’s wife upstairs at a house party, lingers, like a cancerous tumour, long after it should.
Arguably Depp’s most adult roll for nearly a decade, his performance is unescapable, devoid of his luscious locks or sparkling teeth you once again realise how gifted an actor the Hollywood superstar actually is. It would be an outrage if he fails to be nominated once Oscar season arrives.
It could be said that the deterioration of Bulger’s black tooth as the film progresses, could be a direct metaphor for the deterioration of Bulgers withered black soul. Be warned this is no Goodfellas-esque tale of crime and redemption.
Told through the narrative of his former Winter Hill gang, turning police informant on their former boss. Black Mass is two hours of your time that simply flows off the screen.
An excellent but intense movie. One loose end that arguably hinders Black Mass, would be the over hanging narrative of what actually happened to Dakota Johson’s character aka Bulger’s wife? (Fled, missing, murdered?)
Not quite a “classic” but not entirely too far away. With Depp’s performance worth the ticket price alone and a stellar cast who sparkle in support. Black Mass is easily in competition with Sicario to be considered top crime movie of 2015.