FILM REVIEW: BLACK MASS (15)

Amazing performances in a mediocre movie.

Please excuse my overuse of the word ‘Oscars’ in recent film reviews – it’s just that time of the year – but you can bet your bottom dollar that any ‘based on true-events’ movie released in the winter will be gunning for Academy Awards glory.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Johnny Depp and the supporting cast took home awards – but my hopes aren’t so high for the writer, director and the film itself.

Black Mass sees FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) returning to South Boston, where he grew up with the Bulger family. Things have changed. James ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Johnny Depp) has gone from being a thug to a ruthless crime lord – with his brother Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) now a state senator.


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Connolly gets the idea to align himself with James Bulger and asks him to become a informant, feeding the FBI information so they can take down the Mafia, and in return, having the Bureau ‘look the other way’ when it comes to Bulger’s own activities.

This allows Bulger to knock out his competitors and spread his own criminal operation across the country. But when Bulger’s increasing power makes him more and more ruthless, it becomes clear to Connolly that his old friend may be even more dangerous than the people they helped bring down.


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The trailer will have you believe that Black Mass is an intense, slick, action-packed, gangster movie – on par with films such as Goodfellas. In reality, it’s too serious in tone and rather dull at times.

But what makes up for the poor script is Depp’s brilliant performance.

After slightly missing the mark with previous portrayals of real-life criminals (Blow and Public Enemies) – he gets it spot on here.

I hope this inspires the actor to put his ‘panto’ performances on hold for a while to take on similar roles – just in a better written film next time.

For he alone is what makes this movie watchable.

See Black Mass at Showcase Cinema, Peterborough. Visit www.showcasecinemas.co.uk for the latest up-to-date show times. You can also join the chat on Twitter @showcasecinemas or on Facebook by searching for ‘Showcase Cinemas’.

Mikey Clarke [youtube id=”CE3e3hGF2jc” width=”600″ height=”350″]

Genres: Drama & Biopic

Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson & James Russo

Running Time: 2hrs 5mins

Directed by: Scott Cooper

See it if you liked: The Departed & Legend

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