Fear and Loathing in South Boston. Johnny Depp gives a mightily memorable (and mascara-free) performance in BLACK MASS – a semi-competently constructed crime caper that dumps it’s puzzle pieces on the table, builds out as much of the puzzle as possible and then swipes the remaining pieces – the ones they can’t seem to fit – to the floor. This based-on-a-true-story potboiler offers a fairly bleak, slow burn look at schoolyard loyalties and the unholy alliance between notorious gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger and the FBI – a partnership that is ultimately forged in the depths of a morally blindsided hell. Aside from solid casting and an inherently intriguing true-crime plot, almost everything worth wanting to know more about is either handled in a surface-level fashion or dropped all together. Just when you want them to keep digging…they throw away the shovel. It’s seedy, South Boston street smarts may be slickly aligned in terms of tone and texture, but it seems to have no real interest in the what-and-why ways of Bulger the sociopath (brother to a state senator, childhood friend to a federal agent) or the countless Winter Hill Gang cronies that (mostly) blindly followed his deranged command. BLACK MASS is seemingly begging to rub shoulders with like-minded genre greats like Goodfellas and The Departed… Since it brings nothing new to the table, it can’t – so ultimately, it locates that tossed shovel and starts digging itself in to a cinematic shallow grave.
Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jesse Plemons, Sienna Miller, Adam Scott, David Harbour, Corey Stoll and Dakota Johnson
Directed by: Scott Cooper (OUT OF THE FURNACE and CRAZY HEART)
Running time: 2 hr. 2 min.
Story: In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly persuades Irish mobster James "Whitey" Bulger to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history. -- (C) Warner Bros