Black Mass is the story of James “Whitey” Bulger and the exploitation of his association with the FBI to further his criminal activities. This is director Scott Cooper’s third film after the well-received Crazy Heart and Christian Bale vehicle Out of the Furnace. With a cast headed by Johnny Depp in the lead, Benedict Cumberbatch playing Bulger’s politician brother and Joel Edgerton as childhood friend and FBI agent, here’s a triumvirate that whets the appetite. Add to that the venerable talents of Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon and Peter Sarsgaard and we have a package that any Hollywood Exec. would bend over backwards to green light.
The trouble is there’s nothing new to be had. Yes, it’s one of those interesting “based on a true story” narrative and yes there are some good performances, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. You have to wonder if Mr Depp cherry picked the project to be able to dust off another transformative make-up process – all balding hairpiece and striking contact lenses – with an eye on the awards season. There is very little audience engagement with any of the characters – we don’t really care who the next person to be terrorized by “Whitey” Bulger will be. While Black Mass has a running time of 122 minutes, it feels at lot longer and that’s never a god thing. File this one under “P”.
Thank you for reading 🙂