Black Mass - film review


- Credit: Archant

Hailed as Johnny Depp’s long-awaited comeback performance, Black Mass sees the idiosyncratic actor behind a distracting layer of prosthetics and icy blue contact lenses.

Leader of the Winter Hill Gang and all-round notorious mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Depp) became a dictatorial presence in the criminal underworld of south Boston between the mid Seventies and early Nineties. Centring on Bulger’s informant relationship with FBI agent and childhood friend John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk’s screenplay unpicks the deadly alliance that saw a felonious kingpin run amok thanks to Connolly’s professional advancement - effectively accented by his ever-changing and increasingly expensive power suits.

Despite sporting a weighty A-list cast, which includes a subtly malevolent turn from Benedict Cumberbatch as a Massachusetts state senator, Black Mass is a disappointingly dour affair focusing on cumbersome inner city politics whilst misguidedly sidelining any humanising charisma. Throughout the drama, Tom Holkenborg’s score highlights impending brutality with crystal clarity, which serves as a continual reminder of the intensifying bloodshed. An archetypal group of lawless vultures waiting for the other to blink, this middling gangland drama is a passable but somewhat frustrating watch.

Rating: 3 stars

Certificate: 15

Run time: 122 mins

Director: Scott Cooper

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Cast: Johnny Depp, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Juno Temple.


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