122 Min. | Biography – Drama – Crime | November 2015
IMDB Rating: 7.6
Director: Scott Cooper
Staring: Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson
Black Mass Review: ‘Black Mass’ is another is a line of crime dramas set in Boston. The film will inevitable be compared to ‘The Departed.’ And it falls short in the comparison. The acting is top rate, and Depp is much better, not as hammy, than the comic portrait of a crime boss by Nicholson in ‘The Departed.’ Depp is genuinely threatening in the film and the make-up job given him in the film adds to the fright. ‘Black Mass’ has the look of a 70s television show, and that works in its favor. In fact, the overall look of the film is exquisite. That, and the acting, are the two best things in the film. However, Black Mass is both too much and not enough. ‘Black Mass’ tries to cover too much and thus it lacks focus. This is where ‘The Departed’ succeeds. While ‘The Departed’ has many layers and character, it has a focus, the Southie, Billy.
‘Black Mass’ doesn’t have a main theme, a main character, a main protagonist or antagonist. There are a bunch of characters in tense situations with some irony and symbolism. However, in the end, there is nothing to hold onto, no lessons, no emotions, love or hate, for any characters. As miniseries, it could have more deeply explored the racial tensions between the Irish and Italians with the African Americans stuck in the middle. It could have taken a deeper look into Boston politics and corruption, police corruption, and more. The miniseries could have also gone further into the Irish American funding of the IRA. As it was, it touched on each of those issues in an unsatisfactory fashion. If Black Mass had taken a deeper look into any one of those themes, it would have made for a better movie.
The cinematography in Black Mass was beautifully shot and the camera work used in the film was just stunning. Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton and Kevin Bacon gave a great performance in Black Mass. There wasn’t anything to latch on to since the movie doesn’t have a protagonist or a character that you can relate to. Everyone is a villain. Overall Black Mass has amazing cinematography, a great performance from Depp and good directing. Scott Cooper strives to portray Whitey Bulger as the boogeyman, an unstoppable nightmare whose actions are made infinitely more terrifying by the knowledge that they exist in reality. Instead, Black Mass is the kind of dream that you forget the instant you wake up.