Scott Says Johnny Depp’s Best Performance In A Decade Fuels the Ultra Entertaining BLACK MASS

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Film Review: Black Mass

BY SCOTT PETERSON

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It doesn’t really matter if you know the story and backdrop of notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. I have watched countless hours of documentaries on the machinations that took place,all helping Bulger run roughshod over South Boston from the late 70’s to the early 90’s. Black Mass still paints a fascinating portrait of Bulger and a story that is so unbelievable that you have to keep reminding yourself that this isn’t just a movie. Much like Argo,this actually happened. You can’t make this stuff up. It’s not so much Bulger and his Winter Hill Gang’s crimes that raises the eyebrows, it’s the mere fact that the F.B.I played matador to Bulger’s antics and played an integral part in transforming Bulger from a small time hooligan to one of the most notorious gangsters in United States history. Now,we all know Hollywood tends to over dramatize biopics, but Black Mass plays it pretty close to the vest when it comes to accuracy and rides the tidal wave of Johnny Depp’s performance as Bulger to the finish line. Depp is absolutely electric, turning in his finest performance in over a decade.

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Depp stars as Whitey Bulger, a small time hood rat with big aspirations. With the help of his childhood friend John Connely ( Joel Edgerton), who is in the F.B.I, and the inadvertent help of his brother Billy Bulger ( Bnedict Cumberbatch) who is in the United States Senate and is regarded as the “most powerful man in Boston”, Bulger turns into an informant for the F.B.I. In exchange for giving up prized information leading to the arrest of organized crime suspects, Bulger and his crew essentially get a free pass when it comes to South Boston. They are basically kids in a candy store. As the years pass and the noose starts to tighten on Connely, you can start to see the wear on his face. While he always looked at Bulger with an abnormal admiration, he starts to justify everything he has done to create the monster.

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While Black Mass won’t go down in the pantheon of all time great mob movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas, it’s the unnerving performance by Johnny Depp that will put the film on the many people’s short list come award season.  Much like Joe Pesci in the aforementioned Goodfellas and in Casino, Depp’s Bulger is an absolute menace. The dinner scene in which he badgers a federal agent for giving up a secret family steak recipe so easily practically sums up the unpredictable fear Bulger could induce. In the end, what Whitey Bulger despised most was a rat and ironically,he himself turned out to be the biggest rat of them all.

 

 

Final Word: StarStarStarHalf Star