#TIFF15: “BLACK MASS”
Review by Justin Waldman for Mr. Will Wong
Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace, Crazy Heart) takes on his most ambitious project to date as he tells the story of James “Whitey” Bulger one of the most infamous South Boston gangsters in history. Black Mass tells this intense story featuring performances from the incredible Johnny Depp who restores his faith in his acting career with arguably the best performance of his career in the film. Black Mass is an incredible feature that sheds a light on a story that needed the light.
James “Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp) is one of the most notorious gangsters of South Boston, while his brother Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) was state senator, as the story depicts Whitey’s rise to the top of the criminal empire and how he managed to continually fall through the cracks of the justice system. Whitey always believed in not being a rat, because if you’re a rat you’re going to die and it will certainly not be pleasant. However, when rival gang families starting moving in on Whitey’s territory and old friend from Southie, FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) offered him a deal where he provides information and in return gets protection from the FBI Whitey could not say no. Black Mass tells the story of how James “Whitey” Bulger became one of the most feared men in South Boston.
Johnny Depp who has chosen some interesting roles in the last few years of his career, have made people start to forget how talented he truly is. Thankfully though his performance in the film is nothing short of terrifying and riveting as he brings life to the screen as the sadistic psychopath. He has restored his faith in his fans with this performance, which could potentially get him a fourth Oscar nomination. Benedict Cumberbatch who plays the brother to Whitey also does a phenomenal job at hiding what he knows and trying to protect his brother while he is completely aware of the terrible human being that he is. Moreover, Joel Edgerton who never has managed to disappoint audiences shines through yet again delivering another compelling performance that keeps the audience at the edge of their seats. Other mentions to performances have to be mentioned with respect to Kevin Bacon who plays the FBI lead who allows the alliance that Connolly and Bulger have together, as Bacon delivers a stellar performance as well.
However, Black Mass has not only incredible performances that will surely receive buzz and potential academy recognition, but the directing in this two hour heavyweight is flawless as Scott Cooper never lets anything become too dull or diluted as the gruesomeness is not toned down for a lighter audience. The reason why this had to be done, is to truly show how terrifying and how much of a menace James “Whitey” Bulger truly was and still is.
Black Mass is an fascinating piece about a terrifying force. It is one of the better gangster films of recent years, and adds another great addition into the careers of everyone involved.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release Black Mass in theatres on Friday, September 18, 2016.