Black Mass (2015)

R   |    |  Biography, Crime, Drama

Black Mass (2015) Poster

The true story of Whitey Bulger, the brother of a state senator and the most infamous violent criminal in the history of South Boston, who became an FBI informant to take down a Mafia family invading his turf.

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  • Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton in Black Mass (2015)
  • Rory Cochrane in Black Mass (2015)
  • Dakota Johnson at an event for Black Mass (2015)
  • Johnny Depp in Black Mass (2015)
  • Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton in Black Mass (2015)
  • Joel Edgerton in Black Mass (2015)

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13 October 2015 | Troy_Campbell
| Not bad, just so damn standard.
The American crime genre is arguably the cornerstone of modern cinema. Think cinematic masterpieces and there's a good chance every third one is a mobster flick or underworld yarn. This breed of film is nothing if not reliable. Why, then, is the first notable movie about one of U.S.A's most notorious and durable heads of crime so unmemorable? Checking off key points in an organised but uninspired manner, this James "Whitey" Bulger biopic is seemingly more concerned about fitting in all the Wiki-worthy moments rather than truly delving into the psyche of a monstrous man. The unfocused script stems from the choice to trace two decades of Bulger's life (1975 to 1995), an unwieldy stretch of time that results in an unclear filmic timeline and the requirement for truly horrible makeup and wigs. Johnny Depp has succeeded at portraying a gangster before – his John Dillinger in Public Enemies is enthralling – however he's lumped with too many poorly executed physical alterations and character development shortcomings to make an impression here. Aussie Joel Edgerton fares better as a morally intriguing federal agent skating on thin ice, and Kevin Bacon is enjoyable as a frustrated FBI boss, but why Benedict Cumberbatch signed on for such an inconsequential role, as Bulger's Senator brother, is anyone's guess. Scott Cooper keeps it relatively low-key behind the camera, aside from a couple of stylish murder sequences, with the suitably dour cinematography and unfussy score following suit. Overall Black Mass is never overtly bad, per se; its major sin is just being so damn standard.

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