Thursday, 26 November 2015
Week 45: Black Mass
Director: Scott Cooper
Writers: Mark Mallouk & Jez Butterworth
Seen: 25th November 2015
I have been enthusiastically looking forward to Black Mass, the biopic of the notorious Whitey Bulger, since I first heard about it earlier this year. From a cinematic view point, with Scott Copper directing and Johnny Depp in the lead, it definitely evoked my interest. I enjoyed Coppers last two features Crazy Heart (2009) and Out of the Furnace (2013).I was also looking forward to seeing Depp back in a Gangster film after his stand out roles in Donnie Brasco (1997) Blow (2001) and of course Public Enemies (2009) when he played another of America’s most infamous of Gangsters, John Dillinger. From a story stand point it simply doesn’t get as enthralling as the life of James “Whitey” Bulger. However, and maybe it was due to my enthusiasm for its release, but I must admit to being disappointed! Another reason why I found it so weak might have been because I have seen and loved the excellent documentary about Bulger by director Joe Berlinger - Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger (2014). If you want to get informed about the fascinating life of Bulger, and watch a well-made doc at the same time, then that’s the one to watch.
So what is wrong with Black Mass? For me there was no build up, no real development of characters which resulted in me not really caring about any of them. It was over loaded with the usual Gangster genre tropes of beatings and senseless slayings. I could go on, but there are good things about it also it wasn’t all bad. The main performances by Depp and Joel Edgerton who plays John Connelly are strong and to be fair, there are a couple of captivating scenes especially when Depp turns cold, unfortunately though it ends there. Although I wouldn’t really discourage anyone from going to see Black Mass because I am sure there will be people who will relish it. For me however it was just ok.