(US/UK - 2015)
Directed by Scott Cooper. Written by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth. Cast: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Peter Sarsgaard, Dakota Johnson, Corey Stoll, Rory Cochrane, David Harbour, Adam Scott, Julianne Nicholson, Juno Temple, W. Earl Brown, Bill Camp. (R, 122 mins)
If you listen closely in the theater, as the lights go down and BLACK MASS starts, you can almost hear CRAZY HEART and OUT OF THE FURNACE director Scott Cooper say "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to make a Scorsese movie." So it is with the much-anticipated BLACK MASS, touted as a return to form following a surplus of whimsical dress-up and endless self-indulgent eccentricities from former actor Johnny Depp. Even the most devoted Depp apologists turned on him after the loathsome MORTDECAI and to that end, BLACK MASS does showcase Depp's best performance in years, even if it's by default. Though he's not as "Depp"-y, it's still more of the same to some extent: as infamous South Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger, he's again buried under a ton of caked-on makeup, a combination bald cap/receded hairline, and a pair of ice-blue contact lenses that look not unlike those used on Bill Bixby at the beginning of a Hulk-out into Lou Ferrigno on THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Taking place from 1975 to 1991, BLACK MASS covers a lot of ground with a lot of characters, but it has all the depth and insight of Bulger's Wikipedia page. There was probably a longer, more epic film here at some point--even shortly before the film's release, it was still being tweaked, with Sienna Miller's entire role as a Bulger girlfriend ending up on the cutting room floor due to what Cooper termed "narrative choices."