The Michigan Times

“Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

Photo+Credit%3A+Media+Submitted
Photo Credit: Media Submitted

Photo Credit: Media Submitted

Photo Credit: Media Submitted

Justin Shanlian

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Does “Black Mass” hold a candle to some of the greatest mob movies like “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas” and “The Departed?”

The simple answer is no, but here’s why:

This film toes the line between being excellent and just another run of the mill mafia film because it leaves so many questions unanswered.

There is no backstory behind the character of Whitey Bulger, played by Johnny Depp. The film begins with Bulger already rising through the ranks as one of the most nefarious people in Boston. It would have been interesting to see how his childhood made him the person that he became, or what finally pushed him over the edge leading him to become a notorious mobster. These elements really should have been explored.

This film also suffers from pace issues. The movie starts out slow and never revs up, which is problematic because it conflicts with what a classic mob movie should be–jam packed with action and suspense. Luckily Depp’s performance helps makes the film livelier, but when he isn’t on screen, the action comes to a screeching halt.

With those issues aside, director Scott Cooper was able bring out one of Depp’s best performances in years.

Depp is amazing as Bulger, a mass-murdering mob boss who terrorizes south Boston for nearly forty years. The film is based on the book of the same title written by Dick Lehr and Gerad O’Neill.

Rising FBI star John Connolly, played by Joel Edgerton, arranges to have Bulger become an FBI informant, and with the information that he gives them, Bulger is given a free pass to do whatever he wants. Bulger then goes on a crime-riddled rampage filled with murder, prostitution and bumping off the local competition.

Depp goes all in as he gambles with total method acting and he completely immerses himself as Bulger. As the film progresses further into the life of the Boston gangster, it seems as if you are watching a biography of Bulger on the History Channel with Depp’s seamless acting. Audiences simply cannot tell where Depp ends and where Bulger begins. Depp astonishes as Bulger; he is so coldhearted, calculating and terrifying as the Boston kingpin who ran the Winter Hill Gang.

In a chilling moment that takes place toward the end of the film, Bulger interrogates a prostitute after she gets picked up by police. He begins to ask her what she told them about his gang and dealings. She gives the usual story that nothing had been divulged and his gang is safe. By the end of the interrogation Depp completely loses control, and the look in his eyes captures the pure terror oozing from his body. He goes from zero to sixty without ever letting off the gas pedal.

Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL does an amazing job scoring this film. After hearing his soundtrack for “Mad Max: Fury Road” it was hard to imagine that Holkenborg could give us a score that was equally as engaging and hard-hitting that enhanced the film as well as his other scores have. Fortunately, Holkenborg scored the jackpot with  this soundtrack because it’s simplistic, more subtle and thought provoking than his score for “Mad Max.” This makes it fascinating to listen to. Holkenborg’s score is reminiscent of the Prohibition era with his ode to classic gangster noir music.

This movie is not weak by any means, and Depp’s performance will garner him some awards during award season. Even though it doesn’t live up to the great mob films from the past like “The Godfather” or “The Departed,” and leaves a little bit of action to be desired, this film should still be viewed and enjoyed like those other films. Maybe in a few years revisionist history might be a bit kinder to this film in regards to those great movies from the past.

 

Grade: B+

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • “Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

    Entertainment

    Holiday Activities to Boost Your Christmas Spirit

  • “Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

    Entertainment

    Ice Rink Opening Celebration Scheduled to Kick-off the Season

  • “Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

    Entertainment

    Students Spend the Night Laughing with a Comedian

  • “Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

    Entertainment

    Students Treated to Halloween History Event

  • “Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

    Entertainment

    MusiCollage Leaves Audience Members Impressed

  • “Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

    Entertainment

    “As You Like It” Comes to Campus

  • Entertainment

    Theatre department’s “Next to Normal” cast gives stellar performance

  • “Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp

    Entertainment

    “Sicario” Brings Strong Performances, Weak Plot

  • Entertainment

    “Captive” Fails to Captivate

  • Entertainment

    Album Review: Dr. Dre’s “Compton” Hits Hard

“Black Mass:” A Winning Bet for Depp