Thursday, September 17, 2015

Black Mass

The story of Whitey Bulger (Johnny Depp), a relatively unknown South Boston crime lord and sociopath who built his bloody legacy not with the help of his State Senator kin (Benedict Cumberbatch) but through an unholy alliance with childhood friend and ascending FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). From the unthinkable, cold-blooded crime story that served as partial inspiration for The Departed, Black Mass is really just another tiresome attempt to remake Goodfellas (and the third or so that Depp himself has been involved with), here with Irish tough guys being portrayed (poorly) by Brits, Aussies, and other Hollywood  flakes. Edgerton's performance is given to mugging and frankly is embarrassing (which sadly has become standard with him), Cumberbatch brings nothing to the table, struggling with his accent and seeming an unlikely casting choice, and Depp does his best screen gnawing Nicholson impression while combing his hair back, adopting steely blue eyes, and wearing far-fetched Nosferatu makeup. Further, Scott Cooper has yet to establish himself as a competent director (Crazy Heart, Out of the Furnace) and really seems out of his element here with a poorly written screenplay and an irritating camera addressing narrative approach as told in flashback by Bulger's cohorts during interrogation. The film is saved from becoming a total wash by talented actors inhabiting very minor roles, namely Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, and Julianne Nicholson.
* 1/2 out of ****