Black Mass weighs heavy on viewer

Gavin Gaddis

Black Mass Poster

From the director who brought you “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (Scott Cooper), “Black Mass” delivers a gritty look at the White Hills crime gang and their leader James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp).

 

Before I dig into this review I should note some personal bias: Depp has fallen out of favor with me throughout the past decade. Between taking on same-y roles in Tim Burton flicks and using his time-honored method of character development—a goofy voice and memorable hat— have left me unexcited about his works.

 

When the original trailer for “Black Mass” dropped I had this pegged as another “Foxcatcher.” In the same way Steve Carrell slapped on a prosthetic nose and serious demeanor to grab at the coveted best actor Academy Award, I assumed Depp took on this film purely to slap on some makeup and collect his trophy.

 

I was half right.

 

Depp most certainly will be up for best actor on the awards circuit, except he’ll earn it for his astonishing performance, not just standing out in a crowd of mediocre movies.

 

Johnny Depp is one of those actors who rarely disappears into his roles. Morgan Freeman is always Morgan Freeman, post-Casino Robert DeNiro has played a grumpy Robert DeNiro, Adam Sandler is just Adam Sandler no matter what the role.

 

Fifteen minutes into “Black Mass” I felt like I was watching the real Bulger and nearly forgot I was watching a piece of fiction.

 

“Black Mass” is a wonderfully dark crime drama and currently looks to be one of my favorite films of the year. My praise does come with a warning: you will not leave the theater in a great mood.

 

Depp’s acting is excellent to a point where—after the second act—you begin to feel anxious every time he’s on screen. There is a legitimate chance someone is going to be brutally beaten,shot or possibly worse while “Whitey” Bulger is around.

 

There are some good laughs, excellent acting and the single most disturbing scene I’ve witnessed in cinema history contained within the packing of “Black Mass.” I heartily recommend it, just make sure to stop for ice cream or watch an entire season of something lighthearted on Netflix before going to bed that night.