Thursday, September 17, 2015

Black Mass Review - 3½ Stars

Johnny Depp gets his mojo back in “Black Mass.”  As Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger he throws off the cartoon performances of the past few years and taps the essence of a truly evil guy.  The true story comes courtesy the book about the gangster and his relationship with the FBI.  Agent John Connolly grew up with Bulger and his brother and hoped to use his relationship to further his career.  Connolly protected Bulger as an informant, even as Bulger engineered crimes and committed multiple murders. As Connolly Joel Edgerton holds his own—no small achievement.  Depp produces two spine tingling scenes.  In one he questions an agent about a recipe described as a “family secret.”  When the agent gives it up too easily Depp turns from playful to menacing in a split second.  He tops that paying a call on Connolly’s wife (Julianne Nicholson) in a scene so chilling it could earn Depp an award nomination. “Black Mass” begins with the line “I am not a rat.”  The line recalls for me Jimmy Cagney’s “You rat.  You dirty rat.” “Black Mass” joins the list of crime epics from Cagney’s “White Heat” to Martin Scorsese”s “Goodfellas.”  Does it deliver what it promises?  Crime thriller.  Is it entertaining?  Johnny Depp back on his game.  Is it worth the price of admission?  At last!  A grown up movie.