Depp shines in Black Mass, portray charming sociopath with intensity realistic sociopath

By Troy Daughtery

Depp as James "Whitey" Bulger
Depp as James

Johnny Depp has a much-needed return to form in his newest movie “Black Mass.” He plays the notorious James “Whitey” Bulger, the leader of the famous Winter Hill Gang that once ruled the streets of Boston.

The movie, based off of a true story, tells the rise to power of the gang as Bulger uses the FBI to take out his opponents while simultaneously protecting them from investigation.

The movie moves at a rather slow rate throughout, much like the Godfather, but it works. The slow pace does an excellent job of building the relationship between Bulger and the FBI agent John Connolly. The buildup makes the audience really feel connected to the characters as well as the rest of Bulger’s gang.

It helps a lot that the movie is filled with a strong cast that knows how to play their roles. All of the FBI agents are convincing and Benedict Cumberbatch does a great job of playing Bulger’s brother who just happens to be a Senator.

However, the real acting that stands out is Depp’s portrayal of the main character. He looks and sounds like a man that everyone would not want to be around. He nails the nasally Boston accent and his make-up design, while ridiculous looking at first, keeps him looking mean at all times.

His actually persona though is what keeps the movie so intense every scene. Depp’s ability to make his character seem nice and terrifying at the same time is incredible.

He can switch from charming to a complete sociopath in an instant, making his screen time unpredictable at best. It is hard to tell if he is going to murder everyone on screen or invite them over for dinner.

The movie does have some flaws though. The lead FBI agent working with Bulger sometimes seems obviously suspicious for no reason. I found myself wanting them to take screen time away from him and give it to Cumberbatch’s character instead.

One other problem stems from something I actually liked about the movie.

It constantly focuses on Bulger and his gang members that are always around him, which is good, but leads the audience to believe that the Winter Hill Gang isn’t very large scale.

However, these are just a couple take-a-ways from a great movie that I would recommend going to see just for Depp’s performance alone.

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