So, a Johnny Depp film where he puts on a lot of make-up and plays an outrageous character, but this time it’s good? I’m one of the few people who generally enjoyed Depp’s more recent films, even THAT one, so I still have some faith in his ability to produce not just a good performance, but a good film. This coupled with the extremely interesting subject matter, and one of the best supporting casts assembled for a while (although I’ve been saying that a lot recently), and you have the potential for what some people might call redemption for Depp.
Black Mass is a biopic about James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, a man the film has accurately billed as ‘the most notorious gangster in US history’. He was not only a crime kingpin in Boston during the 70’s and 80’s, but his life was particularly interesting because his brother was the state senator, and his childhood friend, John Connolly, was a FBI agent. This obviously meant that he could get away with certain things that others could not, and it makes for a very interesting story for us now.
If you’re a regular follower of Third Act Film, you’ll know that I think a lot of biopics share one problem – they’re too long, and they try to cover too much ground. Unfortunately, this is no exception. To be fair, at no point was I bored, but I was often aware that it was a little too long. This was made harder to take because there were a few moments that seemed like good points to start the story, but they were fifteen or twenty minutes in.
That being said there is plenty to enjoy about this film. As I already mentioned, the story is fascinating, and it’s sometimes hard to believe that what you’re watching really happened, even though the events are well documented. There are also plenty of stand-out performances, the most notable being Joel Edgerton as John Connolly, a man who simply wants to please everyone. Peter Sarsgaard also gives a great performance, even if it’s in a small role.
There’s one more thing that stood out about this film, and that’s that it wasn’t very ‘cool’. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what that means, but the trailer had a powerful and energetic feel to it that the actual film didn’t quite manage to capture.
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