Wednesday, 25 November 2015
REVIEW: BLACK MASS
122 Minutes. Starring: Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Kevin Bacon, Jesse Plemons, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, David Harbour, Adam Scott, Juno Temple & Dakota Johnson. Director: Scott Cooper.
Swallow this Jack Sparrow...why is the rum gone? Perhaps you should check the diaries of 'Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas' writer Hunter S. Thompson for more evidence. Or just maybe you could find it in a bar in Boston. Cheers to 'Black Mass' for bringing the undercover 'Donnie Brasco' gang-related depth of 'Public Enemies' Johnny Depp back from the depths of Davy Jones locker to a whole new depth of acting. As much as there's nothing wrong with the fun and fond 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' franchise (you can expect more soon with the almost gangster sounding 'Dead Man Tell No Tales'), or Depp's Tonto 'Lone Ranger' rides and 'Alice In Wonderland' follies (expect more Mad Hatter and 'Alice Through The Looking Glass' for a wolf who is still clearly going 'Into The Woods' for Disney), it's certainly a far better slice of the man when we see 'Edward Scissorhands' cut into something much deeper and fashion a whole different type of mask. One that see's him as the Boston illegal kingpin face of 'The Town' that Jack Nicholson 'Departed' with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon for their fictional take on real life mobster Jimmy 'Whitey' Bulger, who as a fugitive according to legend snuck in a cinema to watch that Academy Award winning classic. Living out the rest of his days in prison the gangster won't be able to see the real deal this season, but Johnny may get to meet Oscar to begin next year with the mass appeal he's bringing to his darker side in 'Black Mass'. Polishing off more people than 'Sweeney Todd' Depp may even finish off the 'Best Actor' competition of last years winner Eddie Redmayne, the Apple of 'Steve Jobs'' 'i' Michael Fassbender, New England's out of this world 'Martian' Matt Damon and the overdue 'Revenant' of Leonardo DiCaprio. Or even the gang relation of co-star Tom Hardy playing both Krays for a twin mob-hot 'Legend'. Who knew he would have to go so bad to be so good again?
Across this 'Bridge Of Spies' and 'Sicario' hitmen in this Oscar season, there's more people that meet the eye of this Academy...even here. All trying on the Boston accent Pawtucket perfectly like a Seth MacFarlane character creation. Just like Aussie Joel Edgerton who has been ruling everything from 'Warrior' to 'Zero Dark Thirty'. 'Star Wars', 'The Thing', 'The Great Gatsby' and James Dean's 'Life'. This man is in everything. He's probably even in your kitchen...which is not a good thing if you've watched 'The Gift'. Yet this gifted actor really is a presence and a blessing to every chameleon character acting he gives the leading man gold standard touch too. Have you forgotten he's actually Australian? Here playing with the dirt on his blue collar Boston uniform he doesn't exactly play it straight, but he's the closest thing to Depp's mass in character and actor. Copping a role as a childhood friend turned FBI detective, really going undercover with the mobster for an unholy alliance with the cold cases brought up by Whitey's Winter Hill Gang. The thin lines he toes with the steel stained nerves of a man who on the inside is dressed down the more he Mafioso style suits up on the outside, is worked to cuff-link and brass knuckle attention to detail perfection by the enigmatic and evocative Edgerton. It may just be one of his most complex and compelling turns to date for a man whose time is as set as the long road through Hollywood that's yet to come from the underrated, Down Under talent. The only thing that comes close to this in accented performances is that of the British intelligence of Benedict Cumberbatch, who before doctoring in the 'Strange' for Marvel continues his inspired 'Imitation Game' as the Boston born brother of our lead, playing it straight and sublime as a senator, the man people think is really the most powerful man in Boston. More can attest to who really is that however, from 'A Scanner Darkly' and 'Argo' star Rory Cochrane's breakout to a rolling Kevin Bacon thankfully in more movies now, instead of just hilariously, commercially before them. 'Fargo' and 'Breaking Bad's' Jesse Plemons makes a great break for the big screen too. Whilst 'Ant-Man' villain Corey Stoll with as much intense passion, turns to the the other side of the law and mob war and rises to the occasion, never shrinking in the face of a real bad guy with one hell of a jacket. The epic rap-sheet ensemble is furthered with the drug delusional, paranoid play by Peter Sarsgaard, David Harbour, the great Boston 'Equalizer' (actually from New York) and usual funnyman playing it straight Adam Scott. Not to mention some leading ladies to legacy making be, from the always shining even in 'Killer Joe', 'Sin City' or 'Dark Knight' darkness Juno Temple to Dakota Johnson going 'Fifty Shades of Black' here, even more shades darker.
The Old Irish of this New England motion picture is one of Boston's strongest crime-dramas and films about the town. Capturing the supporting character of the city, from the houses on the hill to the back alley, brown bottle lit bars as more than just a beautiful backdrop to this brutal but brilliant Celtic city, shamrock story. 'Crazy Heart' country strong director Scott Cooper moves to the state of play in Massachusetts with the mad soul of Johnny Depp and he brings it out in the best way for a film that's even shot like a classic. It really is one when it comes to Depp's depth, done selling his soul to Hollywood. Like a rolling stone he tries to illicit sympathy for a devil that literally almost drugged Boston's underbelly to death. Exposing all the traits of his character like the perfect actor and best leading man he still is, under all the lights and not shadowing any of the dark for a man that was as flawed as they come. Even when he charmed his way to running the city he held in a vice grip of fear like he did the police in his pocket. Blonde, balding and with even more yellow staining his skin and teeth, Johnny is almost unrecognizable with his epic, evil look that's only redeeming feature is a pair of old blue eyes that could even scare the mob s### out of Sinatra, behind aviators and leather. Yet behind his latest and greatest mask, 'Donnie Brasco' and John Dillinger is unmistakable as another anti-hero of legend brought to by the book biopic, silver screen light. This is the actor we know and love, even if he's playing someone we should hate and pulling off some combustible chemistry and caustic charisma. Sure he helps old ladies with their shopping, plays cards with his dear mother and compliments you on how you cook a steak. But he marinates it in mocking, "funny how" like 'Goodfella' threats just to see how the look on your face gets buried real quick. Let alone the way he salutes the law or checks your ailing wife's temperature as she waits, fittingly reading 'The Exorcist' of all horrors in bed. And just wait until your head turns to see him unload a shotgun or hang people from a seated position. Between all this evil, every look, grimace and sly smile on his wrinkled face leaves more than just crows feet for those who will be sleeping with those birds. The feds may have had a file on him, but the critics have got nothing on Johnny Depp now. You can almost hear him answering back through character as he says "take a shot, but make it your best one. Because if I get up I eat ya"! He got up...and this is more than his meal ticket, it's Depp's bulletproof return fire. And you thought the Captain was going to fade to black. Savvy? This is the adjective of that verb. Here's the real Johnny...back in mass effect. TIM DAVID HARVEY.