Instead, what the highly anticipated true story of James "Whitey" Bulger boils down to here is what we've pretty much known it to be all along: a glossy stage for Johnny Depp's big comeback.
As Bulger, Depp rips off his good looks, slinks into tight denim, clutches his leather jacket, and rules every street, bar, household, and blood-stained vehicle he graces. The film includes a scene where Bulger instructs his son to use violence on the playground in a covert manner.
Though I do believe there is a lot of history and source material that could have been used to improve the narrative, Black Mass is an undeniably well-crafted film that features a career-defining performance from Johnny Depp.
"Johnny takes risks as an actor that most movie stars won't even take because they're too fearful that they'll lose their audience, that they'll lose their status as a movie star", says Cooper, the director of the gritty blue-collar dramas "Crazy Heart" and "Out of the Furnace". Bulger was as mean as they came, a snickering little rat in a windbreaker and cowboy boots, and though everybody knew he was up to no good, nothing ever stuck to him. "We just went in there with our own objectives".
Dick Lehr told at Tuesday night's private screening in Brookline that the biopic about the notorious Boston gangster is "a really fine movie".
"But I'd have to see "Black Mass" too â€" it's getting great reviews, and if it's kind of a seminal Whitey Bulger story, there's no reason to tell that story twice", Damon said.
"It was magic watching Johnny work", said Nicholson. Now that we all agree again that he's capable of grace, canniness and quiet, though, can we also convince him to apply these and other skills to more nuanced projects? "Johnny Depp is one of the sweetest, nicest people alive, and for him to turn himself into someone as cold and calculating as Whitey like this is just chilling". As Charles McGrath points out in the New York Times, that's the route Jack Nicholson went when he played the Bulger-inspired Frank Costello in "The Departed", turning him into "an antic, demonic figure". After all, Whitey Bulger was only found complicit in 11 murders, while the Catholic clergy at the center of director Tom McCarthy's film may have scarred well over 1,000 lives. "It's their life, and you have to pay great attention to that", Depp says.
Early buzz is that Depp will shake his box-office slump and be in the awards mix when "Black Mass" hits theaters September18. Brother of Senator Billy Bulger played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Whitey agrees to work with FBI agent John Connolly played by Joel Edgerton as a FBI informant on Boston mafia. His combination of pieces from performances by Ray Liotta and Leonardo DiCaprio, among others I'm sure I didn't pick out, results in a transformative performance by an individual whose original and unique talent may have simply been hidden from people's sight for the past decade, under multiple layers of costuming and makeup.