Johnny Depp has a varied film career – and that isn’t exactly a bold statement. To date, he has seventy-five performances under his belt. In which he has played about seventy different character roles – from Indians, to vampires, to pirates – the only thing he hasn’t played (yet) is a CGI kitchen sink! Now, in his newest film, Black Mass, he plays infamous gangster, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger.
But, although he has starred in an impressive seventy-five films, not all of them have been successful – let alone good performances. In the last six years he has sprinkled into flops like Mortdecai, Transcendence and The Lone Ranger. His last decent film was probably 2009’s Public Enemies. Until now, finally another decent Johnny Depp film has arrived as he returns to form (for a while hopefully).
Based on a real-life gangster, set in 1970’s Boston and violent as hell – this is as gritty as it gets and adds itself to the collection of stellar crime movies. Much like Scorsese’s The Departed or even Goodfellas – it reflects the crime underworld with tension and realism as though it could / did actually happen. Plus it deals with the cop vs criminal vs informant understory in it too, which always brings along added tension and excitement.
With his leather jacket, slicked back hair and vampiric eyes, Depp plays Whitey, a Boston grown gangster who has his ties with running protection rackets, drug rings and murder to name a few. Alongside – and on the other side of the law – is his brother and soon to be Senate, Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) and childhood friend John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) – who is FBI’s current hot-shot and managed to get Bulger to inform against his competitors, which aids the FBI on reducing the mafia, but also helps Bulger in his rise to Kingpin-dom. However, the downside is that is boosts Bulger’s crime manifesto and essentially makes him an FBI fuelled crimelord. Which is the focal point of the films narrative.
Visually it has everything that it needs; a cinematography of sepia 70’s camera quality, an authentic 70’s set design and the beautiful Boston vistas. Cordially, it hosts a stellar cast too, with the likes of Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, David Harbour, Adam Scott and Juno Temple also starring. However Black Mass with no be remembered for its gangster elements, or large cast, but simply for Depp’s mesmerizing performance.