With the release of this motion picture, even before the film was widely released, there had been Oscar buzz surrounding character actor Johnny Depp's performance. I am here to state that this is by far the Best performance of his entire career thus far!
One could make the argument that Johnny Depp came out with with great movies before hand, and even gave solid performance. And while that may be very well true, many of his most recent flicks were like tables with wobbly legs. Some even missing a leg or two. There was even talk that Depp made an off hand remark that he would retire from acting if another movie of his bombed. But lo and behold this would be a circumstance that would be proven otherwise - Case and Point: Black Mass.
For those of you not up to par on your history, Black Mass tells the story of notorious crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger. A murderous, drug dealing criminal who held sway and ruled South Boston for over a decade, beginning from the early 70's and into the 80's.
In this film, a string of insanely talented actors and actresses co-star in this picture alongside Depp. Including Joel Edgerton, who plays John Connolly, Bulger's loyal childhood friend turned F.B.I. Agent who concocts a plan to have Bulger be an informant for the F.B.I. to help them take down the Italian mafia in north Boston, and in return they would turn a blind eye to what he does, so long as he does nothing outrageous to draw attention to himself. Benedict Cumberbatch plays Billy Bulger, Boston's senator and also Jimmy Bulger's younger brother. A man who wants to better the city he grew up in but wants nothing to do with his brother's goings on. 2 brothers, but completely on opposite sides of the law. Dakota Johnson plays Lindsey Cyr, Bulger's former girlfriend who shared a child with him. Rory Cochrane plays Steve Flemmi, Bulger's right hand man and confidant. Jesse Plemons plays Kevin Weeks, whom Bulger takes under his wing and makes him his handler and driver. I mean the list goes on and on of such distinguished actors and actresses who raises the level of respect for this picture like this by a factor of 100! A well written script is always a solid foundation for a great movie, next is a strong cast to help bring the story to life. And the most important piece of this puzzle is the Director, the master conductor who makes sure everything falls into place as it should. And this film's fearless leader is Scott Cooper.
Scott Cooper raked in a lot of attention and success with his debut film "Crazy Heart", starring Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal, then hit another home run with the dark crime picture "Out Of The Furnace" starring Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson and Sam Shepard. Most filmmakers now days try to impress you with flashy editing and style. What is particularly special about Scott Cooper's direction and style is how simply shot and edited his films are, as well as the stories he brings to life visually. It's all very straight forward and strong. He's gets straight to the point and doesn't pussy foot around. And that is exactly what he brings to Black Mass - A real bullet to the head (pun very much intended).
What you will find shocking about the story of Black Mass, once you do your research, that fact is indeed stranger than fiction, as 85-90% of what is portrayed in the film comes directly from actual things that have happened, situations that have occured, people that have died precisely in the manner portrayed in the film. The story is told through various "characters", who are in fact real people, some of them still alive and walking around today, who were close with Whitey Bulger and worked with him, so-to-speak, mainly through shady business/drug deals and hits on other people. Johnny Depp's take on James "Whitey" Bulger is as chilling as anything I had seen on film in a long time! He completely embodies Jimmy Bulger, down to the way he moves, his mannerisms and even the way he speaks. Which is why I suppose you could say that Depp is one of the great Character Actors of our time. Has he always chosen the best material? Probably not. But you can be damn sure that he when he is a character, he becomes the character. He is no longer Johnny Depp. His performances will be gold, even if some of the movies are not. And that is something to be respected.
Black Mass Movie Review
by Phillip Wilcox "Our Movie Demon"