Black Mass Review: Johnny Depp’s mighty comeback

Johnny Depp puts himself back as a serious actor with Scott Cooper’s compelling crime drama

Black Mass
Johnny Depp as James Whitey Bulger in Black Mass.

Black Mass, a confident and watchable crime drama, has been labelled Johnny Depp’s mighty comeback. This movie, directed by Scott Cooper and written by Jez Butterworth and Mark Mallouk, is based on one of the most shocking true stories of political deception in the US and also gives insights into the political roots of gangsterism.

In the 1970s and 80s, James Whitey Bulger (played by Depp) was a south Boston’s most violent and notorious criminal, whose younger brother Billy Bulger (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) served as president of the Massachusetts State Senate. James ran the Winter Hill Gang, an extremely vicious organisation with doing his business and whatever he wanted. He also cooperated with his friend, John Connolly (played by Joel Edgerton), a FBI agent who grew up with the Bulger brothers in the same Irish-American community.

Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton in Black Mass
Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton in Black Mass.

Connolly and James stuck together to smash the hated “eye-talians” and also the Waspy non-Irish of Cambridge and the “Brits” in the “Six Countries” with a sense of Irish neighborhood loyalty. In return for Connolly’s connivance, James also gave him valuable “intel” on the Italians in the North. Gradually, the FBI chief (Played by Kevin Bacon) became aware of the fact that the information James provided actually was repeating and not as especially valuable as they thought, and that he had been fooled by Connolly and James.

The one impressive moment in the movie is when James’s little son got seriously ill after having a fever and taking wrong medicine by mistake, his anguished wife (played by Dakota Johnson) decided to give up. However, in a later scene, Kevin Bacon also used the same phrase to threaten to end Connolly’s support to Bulger. Such huge torment returned when James insisted on Connolly’s wife who had been pretending to be ill in order to not to socialise with him. The clear memory of his son makes this a more complicated moment.

Johnny Depp in Black Mass.
Johnny Depp in Black Mass.

This time Depp gives really impressive performance with his dramatic receding hairline, chalk-white hair, rotting tooth and icy blue eyes. However, he is nice to old ladies on the street, devoted to his mother and brother, and truly loved and doted to his son. Such a contradiction between this soft side and his brutality depicts vividly his inner world.

Indeed, Depp’s appearance might distract some, but with compelling and mighty performance, it is good to see him again during this Christmas days. Welcome back, Johnny.

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