Thursday, 26 November 2015

Review: Black Mass

World of Blackout Film Review

Black Mass Poster

Black Mass
Cert: 15 / 123 mins / Dir. Scott Cooper / Trailer
WoB Rating: 6/7

So, this is my third Jesse Plemons film this month; the cinema staff are beginning to talk. Everyone's favourite grump-faced young Texan is just one supporting pillar of many in the fantastically cast Black Mass, the true/dramatised story of Massachusetts crime-kingpin James 'Whitey' Bulger and his 20 year grip over Boston, all of which was in fact aided and abetted by his state-senator brother, and their childhood friend who became a crooked FBI agent.

First and foremost, Johnny Depp is on blistering form as Bulger. It's great to finally have Johnny back in a role which gives him something to do, boldly striding down the line between charismatic and repellent (and often being both). As Black Mass progresses though, it becomes as much Joel Edgerton's film as Depp's, and he's shaping up to be a classic character-actor in playing the FBI's John Connolly. Backed by understated performances from the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson, Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, Rory Cochrane and Juno Temple (okay, and Jesse Plemons), director Scott Cooper isn't afraid to use some quiet restraint with his cast, opting for lengthy, scathing glances rather than Tarantino-esque shoot-outs (although rest assured, there's a not-insignificant bullet-count in here as well).

In other hands, the film could easily have been a straight-to-DVD thriller starring Russell Crowe, but Cooper's unflinching treatment of his subject matter (this is a hard 15 Cert), Junkie XL's melodically imposing score, and the fantastic sets, make-up and costumes make Black Mass far more than the sum of its parts…

…although it's duly noted that Mr Cumberbatch seems to have mastered his Massachusetts accent by studying Peter Griffin, Depp's criminal mastermind barely ages between 1975 and 1995, and his accompanying semi-receded hairline doesn't seem to budge at all ;)

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
If you're in the mood for unrelenting grimness on a large screen, yes.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
It'll be one to buy, but maybe once the price has dropped.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
Almost certainly.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Almost certainly.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Maybe a bit.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
Black Mass stars none other than young Owen Lars himself, Joel Edgerton.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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