Black Mass: Film Review – Johnny Depp’s Return to Form

Verdict: A riveting true story is brought to life by remarkable performances.

No one can deny Johnny Depp’s acting prowess. However, even his biggest fans have had doubts creeping in after his last few films. Fortunately, the star is back. This time, in a role that does complete justice to his talent.

Black Mass traces the rise and fall of James "Whitey" Bulger, one of America’s most notorious gangsters. It follows the period in his life when Bulger (Johnny Depp) teamed up with FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) to take down an opposing Mafia family. All this is punctuated with the love and loss Bulger faced during this dark period in his life.

Though Black Mass is backed by a solid screenplay, its primary strength lies in its performances. Each actor is phenomenal in his/her respective part. Johnny Depp is the portrait of evil in his depiction of Bulger. It is refreshing to see him shed the over-the-top antics and costumes, and show off his talent. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays his brother Jimmy, is equally memorable in his role. Joel Edgerton delivers a remarkable performance as well.

However, the stellar acting is not restricted to the lead cast. Black Mass takes a gifted ensemble cast, and makes the most of it. Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, Julianne Nicholson and Juno Temple manage to make an indelible mark in their limited screen time. In fact, all these performances might just have cemented Black Mass as one of the year’s best-enacted screenplays.

The acting takes the engaging true story to the next level. The plot, which spans more than a decade, manages to do it in the most skillful way possible. It moves fast, without ever feeling rushed. It has gore, without ever taking it too far. It shows you the various sides of a person, without ever sugarcoating his depravity.

The downside of this is that Black Mass appears to lack focus. The film, which tries to incorporate way too many aspects of Bulger’s life, struggles to find its centre. However, this is easy to ignore in an otherwise well-made film.

Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Black Mass is the quintessential gangster film. It features equal parts of drama, action and thrill to keep you engaged. All this, backed by some award-worthy performances, makes the film a must-watch this weekend.