Movie Review: Black Mass

Black Mass

Cary, NC — Black Mass tells the bizarre true story James ‘Whitey” Bulger, one of the most notorious gangsters of all time, and his rise to power in south Boston in the 70’s and 80’s.

A Must-See Movie

The film’s central story of crime and corruption is a little familiar, but performances from the entire cast, Depp in particular, help Black Mass rise above its material as a must-see event.

Johnny Depp is Back!

I’m so excited to be able to enjoy a great performance from Depp again. In my humble opinion, the last decade or so has seen some of the worst work of this actor’s career.

There are a few bright spots, of course, like the strange but unique animated film Rango.

Depp did a good job as another gangster, John Dillinger, in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. There’s also, of course, his hilarious cameo in 21 Jump Street, but, other than that, his resume is filled with boring sequels and bloated blockbusters, none of which saw the talented actor flex his acting muscles. Johnny, it’s good to have you back!

Black Mass

Black Mass changes all of that. Hiding behind a bald hair-piece and piercing blue eyes, Depp immerses himself into the monster that is Bulger.

One minute he’s helping a local senior citizen with her groceries and the next he’s gunning down one of his closest friends for nothing more than talking back. Bulger is truly an over-the-top figure, but Depp makes him feel all too real.

The film gives us a small glimpse of what makes Bulger tick, but, overall, there’s not a lot of development to the character, though I believe that’s purposeful. He is a true psychopath, after all, and the film simply presents him as is, which is really interesting.

Supporting Cast – Just As Good

Now, as good as Depp is in this movie, it’s really the supporting cast that helps elevate the film.

And man, this cast is stacked. Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Corey Stoll, Rory Cochrane, Joel Edgerton…I realize you may not recognize all of those names, but, trust me, you’ll recognize the faces.

Black Mass

The film tells the story from the point of view of Bulger’s crew, who are recounting everything to the FBI after everything comes crumbling down, and they are all incredible.

You’re especially gonna want to keep an eye on Edgerton, who plays a Fed that grew up with Bulger and forms an “alliance” that helps them both rise to power. Edgerton is fantastic in the role, especially later in the film when he’s really starting to squirm as everything is starting to go wrong.

Absolutely Worth the Trip

I can’t quite say that Black Mass is able to join the ranks of the all-time great gangster movies, along with Goodfellas or The Godfather, but, with such good performances from Depp and from everyone else, it really doesn’t need such praise. Black Mass is absolutely worth seeing, and here’s hoping Depp keeps up the good work.


Jordan Hunt covers movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews. Photos from Facebook.