What ludicrousness is this? Johnny Depp is Benedict Cumberbatch’s brother? That’s really believable. And I suppose Pegasus unicorns will start flying out of my sphincter. Black Mass, the Johnny Depp-driven tale of Boston kingpin Whitey Bulger, asks us to believe that Johnny Depp’s sibling is Benedict Cumberbatch. Je ne comprend pas.
The movie starts off with Johnny Depp playing the real life gangster who gets in good with the Boston police and FBI. It looks like they borrowed all the leftover 1970’s props and set pieces from American Hustle, with Boston filling in for New Jersey in this mafiosi noir thriller. By playing informant on all his rivals, Bulger effectively eliminated all his competition while expanding his own crime empire. Basically he was like Mario who grabs the star in a Super Mario game and becomes invincible—but in a Boston Irish gangster kind of way.
Actually Depp does pretty well in this role, even though the makeup sort of makes him look like a henchman in Dick Tracy waiting for a glimpse of Breathless Mahoney. Depp plays a complicated man who is loved, respected and feared throughout Boston during this period. I had my hesitations seeing this movie. “Another Johnny Depp vehicle?” I thought. For every Edward Scissorhands and Willy Wonka we fondly remember him for, he’s had a number of Alice in Wonderland clunkers we have had to put up with recently. Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) surrounds Depp with a capable supporting cast including Kevin Bacon and Dakota Johnson, all of whom deliver fine performances. I think there should be special accolades for Joel Edgerton who plays John Connoly—the FBI agent that knew the gangster from childhood in the South Side of Boston and evolves into the same type of slimey gangster they had originally set out to bust. I found his transformation entertaining.
Verdict: Definitely stream-worthy, catch it on Netflix or Hulu or wherever they stream it. I’m not going to sign off Black Mass as must see in the movie theater. It is one Johnny Depp’s better performances, I will admit.
Can I Bring the Kids? It’s a gangster pic with all the blood, homophobia, drugs, racism and cursing you might expect. It’s historical, but be forewarned, this isn’t Mary Poppins.
Movie still copyright Warner Bros.