Johnny Depp portrays Whitey Bulger in the Boston-set film, Black Mass.
Johnny Depp portrays Whitey Bulger in the Boston-set film, Black Mass.

Showing a bit of Depp-th

OH YEAH, that's right - Johnny Depp can seriously act.  

I'd nearly forgotten that fact, after years seeing him phone it in numerous times as Captain Jack Sparrow, and his silly takes on Willy Wonka and whatever that turn was in Dark Shadows (thanks very much Tim Burton).

He's back to his glory days of Donnie Brasco and Blow (my two favourite Depp performances). 

In Black Mass, he's playing real life Boston crime boss turned FBI informant - James "Whitey" Bulger.

What makes this true story incredible, is that FBI agent Brian O'Hallaran, played by Joel Edgerton, the man who convinced Whitey Bulger to become an informant (and let him get away with murder - literally) was a childhood friend of Bulger's.

This isn't a game of Cops and Robbers, but more Dodgy Cops and Evil Robbers.

That's what Whitey Bulger was - pure evil. Funnily enough, I couldn't help draw comparisons with the story of this film to Martin Scorsese's The Departed, but then I read online that Nicholson's character in that film was (very) loosely based on Bulger - so the comparisons are somewhat warranted.

Depp and Edgerton own this movie, but nothing can be taken away from the supporting cast.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Bulger's senator brother is superb - even if it did take this particular Sherlock fan a few moments to get used to his Boston accent. 

A special mention must go to Friday Night Light's Jesse Plemons who absolutely steals every scene he is in as Kevin Weeks, Bulger's new right hand man - it's an intense performance, he's a great actor, who is choosing some very interesting roles for himself. 

My prediction is Plemons will be one of the next great character actors of his generation. While running at a little over two hours, the film never seems to drag.

The pacing of the screenplay by Mark Mallouk (his first) and Jez Butterworth (the upcoming Bond film, Spectre) keeps you interested in this story and never drags. 

I would have preferred to see in a little more detail the actual capture and trial of Bulger, which is tacked onto the end of the film - but I'll just have to settle for the documentary of the trial on Netflix to get my answers.

RATING: 8/10

Gympie Times


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