The highly anticipated gangster film Black Mass has been touted as a return to form for lead actor Johnny Depp and his performance did not disappoint. Unfortunately, most of the cast can’t match the heights of Depp’s rebound, and their struggles become that much more apparent as Depp acts circles around them. Based on a true story, the film follows James “Whitey” Bulger, an Irish mobster who becomes an informant for the FBI. He uses the relationship to bring down rival gangs, and become the kingpin of South Boston. The film puts equal focus on FBI agent John Connely, played by Joel Edgerton. As a childhood friend to Whitey, Connelly initiates the unholy union between the Federal Bureau and the career criminal. Edgerton does a great job playing the “whatever it takes” federal agent who sometimes seems more loyal to Whitey his own bureau.
The obvious criticism that will be thrown at this film is how predictable it is, the typical rise and fall of a gangster. However, while the ending can be seen from a mile away, the execution is superb and the “predictability” doesn’t take away from the quality of storytelling. What does adversely affect the film is the lackluster performances put it by the rest of the supporting cast. Benedict Cumberbatch does a laughable attempt at playing Billy Bulger, Whitey’s older brother. Cumberbatch is so obviously miscast it feels as though he got the part on name alone, and didn’t even show up for an audition. He’s not alone, Adam Scott looks like he got lost on the studio lot and just wondered onto the Black Mass set.
Overall, Black Mass is an enjoyable gangster flick that benefits from great storytelling and fantastic performances by its two leads. However, Black Mass never truly reaches greatness because of its predictability and mediocre performances by the film’s supporting cast.