|LFF film review: Black Mass|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Friday, 16 October 2015 18:33|
Director: Scott Cooper
Who doesn't love a heavy-hitting crime drama? Scott Cooper clearly does, switching from Crazy Heart to this Boston tale of corruption. His folk drama featured two fantastic turns from Jeff Bridges and Colin Farrell and he draws two similarly gripping turns from Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton.
Depp plays the notorious gangster Jimmy "Whitey" Bulger, a part that could seem similar to his role in Public Enemies, were it not for Depp's transformed appearance. Looking more like a vampiric Christopher Walken than a drug dealer, he sports his slicked hair and blue contacts with a chilling stare that speaks volumes about his ruthlessness. Edgerton, meanwhile, proves himself one of the best character actors around with another generous performance as John Connolly, an FBI agent who works with Bulger to bring down the Mafia - only to unwittingly strengthen his childhood friend's grip on the local crime scene.
Edgerton's is the more interesting character - his increasingly gelled hair visibly rising as his moral integrity sinks - but Cooper's film keeps trying to make Bulger its lead. The result is a unfocused landscape of lowlives, albeit one that grips because each actor's role is so well performed. Even Benedict Cumberbatch, who is unnecessarily cast as Jimmy's political brother, Billy, brings clout to his bit part. Stitched together with superb editing, from title years and voice over testimonies to give an air of inevitable downfall to beautiful crossover fades that see cars driving on rivers and cities filling up faces, Black Mass ultimately loses weight by being over-stuffed, but this saga still carries an impressive heft.