18 Sep 2015 ● English ● 2 hrs 4 mins
Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Johnny Depp
Crew: Scott Cooper (Director), Masanobu Takayanagi (Director of Photography), Junkie XL (Music Director)
Rating: A (India)
Release Dates: 18 Sep 2015 (India)
Tagline: Based on the true story of one of the most notorious gangsters in U.S. history
The only thing that annoyed me about the movie was a "Smoking Kills" sign in the bottom right corner of the screen throughout the whole run time. And I guess we can thank the imbeciles from the department of health for that! The movie though was rock solid. Scott Cooper's Black Mass follows the life of Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger, his ties with the FBI through childhood friend John Connolly, his use of the FBI as a cover to expand his criminal empire and his eventual downfall.
Hands down, this is Depp's comeback! It's probably his best role since starring as a gangster in Michael Mann's Public Enemies (2009)! Depp IS Whitney! He's the devil himself! He's cold. He's calculated. He did have a heart once. But after his son dies aged just 6 years, it's all just business. And he would do anything to protect his business. Depp's mannerisms, his accent, his acting! God knows I missed this! As Lt. Archie Hicox would have put it, "Damn good stuff sir!"
But it's not just Depp who does a fine job. Just take a look at that ensemble! Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson! The list goes on!!!! And everybody bloody delivers man! No one puts one foot wrong. I felt like everyone's collective effort really helped elevate the source material. Cooper's direction is spot on. There is no flashiness. Just pure drama. And it's handled with respect. You get everything that you normally expect from a gangster film. The violence is kept on an even keel. There are no terrific blood splatters or unnerving gruesome murders taking place that are shown on screen. It's the acts themselves that are quite horrifying. The cinematography isn't flashy or jaw dropping but it gritty and low key. The atmosphere and tone felt right. The dialogues too were great. Sometimes they were these dark comedy types ones which were a laugh riot. Black Mass had a lot of things going for it.
It's just, sometimes it seems too respectful. The film doesn't dare to take any risks in fear of failure. Its got a very good story but if it didn't get its treatment right, there was always the risk of failure right around the corner. That's why it felt contained. It felt content. It was happy with telling its story plain and simple. That's what separates the good films from the greats like The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, New World, The Untouchables, City of God and the like. That desire to push boundaries, to make this a better tale than all the other ones out there was absent here. The ending felt a bit abrupt and could have milked out the potential for drama a bit more.
All in all, this movie was pinned up as Depp's comeback from the moment the first trailer hit and it well and truly has been. A good story executed well enough with a fantastic performance from everyone involved, Black Mass does a lot of things right. It just lacked that extra ambition to be something truly great.