Movie: Black Mass
My Rating: 3 stars
This is a moderately entertaining film. It tells the story of Irish gangster, Whitey Bulger and his reign of terror over Boston in the 1970s. I don’t usually go in for biopics, but I decided to watch this one because of the fuss Hollywood and all the critics were making over it. But, Johnny Depp plays the titular role, and the industry always goes a little bananas over him. So, that might have skewed the results a little. Consequently, I wasn’t quite sure whether to trust the hype or not. The movie is fine. The story isn’t really all that different from all the other gangster movies I’ve watched in the past. Lots of cold-blooded killing. Lots of arguments over turf. I guess it’s interesting that this sociopath was a real person, killing people whenever his delicate pride was insulted, but it’s not that wild of a concept.
The big element that had people talking was Johnny Depp’s crazy makeup. The costume department had to turn the gaunt, swarthy Depp, with his luxurious mane and olive skin into a pasty, blue-eyed, balding Irishman. And, the result is relatively convincing (in a wide shot). But, there’s something a little disconcerting about the whole getup when we get to see him up close. The makeup and prosthetics don’t look quite natural, but I didn’t find it as off-putting as some of the critics did. I think the bigger problem is that the general public is already quite familiar with how Johnny Depp looks in real life. So the dramatic transformation is very distracting. It makes the audience start looking for the makeup and analyzing it a bit more than it normally would have, and that’s usually something that directors want to avoid.
I could take this movie or leave it. It’s really just another gangster flick. I think that having a big, A-list actor at the helm kind of confused most people’s analysis a little. Of course, my Oscar-season curiosity certainly got the better of me in this instance. I was willing to sit down and watch just about anything if it was high-profile enough. And, this was one of the films that was kicking around that time of year. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you decide to watch this movie, but you won’t necessarily be missing anything if you let it go. It’s the kind of movie that you might as well watch if you suddenly find yourself before it—like on a plane, or if your significant other really wants to see it. But, you don’t need to go hunt it down.