A Subtle reminder that Johnny Depp Can Act
Black Mass (2015): The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.
Oh ya that's right. Johnny Depp can act. That's pretty much the only reason this movie exists, which is a shame because it's an absolutely crazy story. But this film is a surface level film at best. I didn't really learn about what drives these people, specifically Whitey Bulger. I just learned that Johnny Depp can actually act. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But it definitely prevents this film from being everything it could have been. So let's get into it yes?
Let's talk about everything except the acting. Because that's the only reason to see this film. First off, the makeup. That is far and away the biggest fault of this film. Unfortunately, the makeup crew did not do a good job here. Rather, the makeup crew decided to make the noses of many of the characters in this film be as distracting as possible. Johnny Depp's makeup was especially distracting, and most certainly detracted from the film overall. Several times I was taken completely out of a gripping scene when the camera would decide to do a closeup of Johnny Depp's face. However, everything else was pretty much....fine. Nothing really stood out except for the editing, which I have to give a shoutout to. Whenever anyone inserts an old school jump-cut into their film, it's gonna get a shoutout. Because jump-cuts are awesome. (If you don't know what I mean check this out.) Unfortunately the editing department was the only place this film took any risks at all with, as it looked pretty bland and honestly the cinematography made Boston look pretty bland too.
But at least Johnny Depp is here to make everything better. So for those that have been following me for a while, you know that I have been harping on Johnny Depp a lot in recent years for "going through the motions" with his roles. Almost every film he's done since 2009's Public Enemies can be basically summed up as, "Oh look at me look at how odd I am." There's been no effort in his performances, and the films he's been in have been, well, terrible. Fortunately here he finally reminds us once more that he can act. He is mortifying as Bulger, delivering one of the best performances of the year thus far. He is unpredictable, terrifying, and captivating. And he can actually act the sh*t out of a role. While I hope this trend continues, Depp's IMDB page would suggest that that's not the case, as he has sequels to Pirates and that not-so-good Alice in Wonderland film coming up. Great. That said, we also have to talk about Joel Edgerton. The man is having a hell of a month, first starring and stealing the show in The Gift and now delivering another fantastic performance here. The man has really turned it around since his pathetic performance in last year's Exodus: Gods and Kings. But then there's everyone else. You know, there comes a point when having so many recognizable actors in your film becomes a legitimate gripe against it. Well, it happens here, because theres about 503234 recognizable actors in this film. Dakota Johnson has one scene. Peter Sarsgaard and Corey Stoll have 3 lines. Adam Scott does literally nothing except stand there and watch everything. Kevin Bacon is criminally underused I mean what the hell are you doing in this film, guys? There's no reason to have this many recognizable stars in a movie. It becomes distracting as you recognize one person after another. These 3-line roles could've been saved for some up-and-comers to try and build their resume, not for Julianne Nicholson to stand there and be recognizable. Even though she and Depp do share FAR AND AWAY the best scene of the entire 122 minute film together. I don't know I feel like it's an odd complaint but it's definitely a valid one. There are too many stars in this film, and if Hollywood continues this trend it will make it very difficult for some new actors to step onto the playing field. Adam Scott does not need to stand off to the side with his awful 70's porn stache, guys. He just doesn't. Oh how can I forget my favorite person in the business, Mr. Benedict Cumberbatch? As per usual with this film, he's not given much to do, but you could tell he took the role just so he could rock a Boston accent. That was definitely one of the highlights of the film.
I guess I haven't really touched much on this story. The story is crazy, and most of it is unbelievably true. However unfortunately, this film doesn't really bring much to the table other than retelling us this story. Motivations are criminally under-explained and there are huge time jumps right when you least expect it, making you just have to infer that the problems brought up in the previous section of the film were solved. A common problem among biopics, this film simply just bit off more than it could chew to begin with, then tried squeezing it into 2 hours. Cause, you know, attention spans. This film could've been 3 hours and I still would've likely had the same complaint, but at least at 3 hours I wouldn't not have complained as much. Because of these faults, this film is.....ultimately fine. It is above average, but it is so simply because its source material is nothing short of amazing and Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton are awesome. Definitely check this out sometime, but there's no reason to waste $10 on a movie ticket for it.
The Critique: While Johnny Depp (finally) shines, Black Mass is a surface level film at best, as it's simply too short to be everything it could have been. Yet another missed opportunity.
The Recommendation: Netflix it. Absolutely check it out, but Netflix it.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 6/10 Above Average
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