Four Stars or Less – ‘Black Mass’: A powerfully performed gangster movie

Shane Freeman

Shane Freeman

Chameleon Johnny Depp was on a downward spiral in his career. Giving lousy performances in some of the biggest box-office bombs, he seemed to have lost his Oscar-winning ability. I almost gave up all hope for him until the trailer for “Black Mass” was released. In less than 30 seconds, Depp transformed into the notorious criminal Whitey Bulger in my mind. I instantly felt the presence of evil in his character, and in that moment, I knew Depp was back.

Depp gives the performance of a lifetime and is challenged by another career-defining performance: Joel Edgerton’s. While the film follows the same tropes from most gangster films, the negative effect is overshadowed by the cast’s performances. Depp has always had the ability to adopt a wide range of roles, but he so completely embodies the Bulger that after the first five minutes, I forget he’s in the film at all. Every moment he’s on screen, the intensity of his presence overpowers the atmosphere in the theater.

The only other presence on screen that could challenge Depp’s was that of Edgerton. He always seems to be overshadowed in his films, but this time he gives Depp a run for his money. Both actors completely own this film and deserve the highest praise for their performances.

I’m a huge fan of gangster films, and this one tops my list of favorites. The story is interesting even though there could have been just a little more substance. Some of the scenes were so full of intensity that it was almost too much. Although the film is violent, more tension actually came from less violent scenes. Some moments made me struggle to catch my breath.

While the violence and storyline don’t make “Black Mass” a film for everyone, it is definitely my favorite so far this year.

My Score: 4/4.