Ably supported by a heavyweight cast, superior acting reigns supreme throughout this engrossing enough story.
Black Mass sees Johnny Depp exhibit a predictably excellent transformation into cold-eyed gangster and FBI informant Jimmy ‘Whitey’ Bulger. Joel Edgerton meets him punch for punch as his weak-willed FBI agent liaison, with the perfect amount of charm and bullshit.
Despite a tight script, however, Black Mass does not provide high enough stakes for drama (bar the odd murder), due to Bulger’s near invincibility courtesy of the FBI deal. It is also a too-familiar story and setting – Southie’s criminal underworld – despite its grounding in truth.
Although not a particularly original film Black Mass is as good as it can be given its constraints, holding the audience’s attention throughout with lean editing and sterling performances.
CAST: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Rory Cochrane, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Dakota Johnson
DIRECTOR: Scott Cooper
WRITERS: Mark Mallouk & Jez Butterworth (screenplay), Dick Lehr & Gerard O’Neill (book)
SYNOPSIS: FBI agent John Connolly (Edgerton) gets into bed with Winter Hill gang boss Jimmy ‘Whitey’ Bulger (Depp) in an attempt to eradicate their common enemy – the Italian mob.