Movie Reviews

Published on November 1st, 2015 | by Daniel Anderson



Black Mass is the story of Whitey Bulger, a notorious criminal who featured on the FBI’s Most Wanted list for several years.

In the film, he’s played by Johnny Depp, an actor who seemingly decided back in the early 2000s that he was going to play the same character with a funny hat and a weird English accent for the rest of his life.

Well there’s good news on that front, because Black Mass sees Depp seemingly given a crap for the first time in well over a decade. Not only is he physically transformed (though he doesn’t look much like Bulger) but I’ve never seen him play a character so mesmerisingly menacing.


It’s quite a revelation and is pretty much guaranteed to earn the star another Oscar nomination in 2016, though likely not a win. The best part is that there isn’t a single sign of a certain silly pirate in the performance.

The rest of the film is sadly far less interesting. Journeyman director Scott Cooper has proven himself to be a perfectly serviceable filmmaker in the past with efforts like Crazy Heart and Out of the Furnace and he doesn’t stretch himself here.

So you get a very impressive cast left with relatively little to do except spew extremely familiar cops vs gangsters dialogue and get out of the way when Depp starts into a monologue.

The likes of Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, and Juno Temple are wasted, while Benedict Cumberbatch is awkwardly miscast as a slimy politician with links to Bolger.

The project itself has been kicking around Hollywood for years and it’s easy to see why – the film has nothing new to add to the gangster genre and can’t even seem to decide what point it wants to make. It’s also spends a lot of time glamorising the deeds of a convicted murderer, showing his to be a charismatic man and rarely focusing on his misdeeds.

Ultimately, Black Mass will be most remembered for a strong performance from Depp and it likely to gain some extra profile during awards season. But otherwise its a fairly forgettable entry in the gangster genre.

MOVIE REVIEW: Black Mass Daniel Anderson

Summary: A great performance from Johnny Depp isn't enough to make this gangster flick stand out


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About the Author

Daniel Anderson

Daniel's favourite film is Die Hard. This is pretty much all you need to know about him. He's seen a few more movies since 1988 but none have the same perfect combination of Christmas and killing...

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