Disclaimer: This is a second review of ‘Black Mass’, but if you want the original review click HERE
Before I go into this redo or redux type review I want to say that I still enjoyed the film immensely, but after some time for it to sink in, I had some second thoughts I’d like to share so I can give another honest review of the film.
What I think every person who saw this movie can agree on are the performances. Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Benedict Cumberbatch, and everyone else in between were off the charts with their performances, that has not changed. What the director Scott Cooper seems to be immensely gifted at as a new director is getting the best performances out of his A-List actors. So far, Cooper has managed to direct Jeff Bridges to his first Academy Award win and possibly either Edgerton or Depp’s first possible win so credit to him, but what he scorches in directing his characters is what he lacks in giving filling storytelling.
Even though I was floored by what I was watching during the screening, I realized that the film does end in a hollow fashion. Not that the story isn’t interesting, but quite the contrary, and that is where Cooper doesn’t capitalize. Instead of making this a wonderfully shot mobster movie epic like in years past, it loses us with a jumping narration throughout many years of the Irish mob in Boston and Bulger’s own personal stories or vendettas. Rather than making it a true (I say that lightly) gangster or mobster movie it becomes strictly a serial killer which Bulger was more or less.
There is rich material to make a movie with when it comes to Whitey Bulger, but it won’t happen in the run-time Black Mass accumulated. The enthralling aspects of gangster life and the wars they had with each other is something not touched upon in the film like I would have hoped, but thankfully we have The Departed to help us with some of that, and what The Departed also brought us was a clear protagonist and antagonist. Once I thought Black Mass was going to give us a top notch nemesis for Bulger and those around him, he was gone like a fart in the wind. If there was more of a chase like we had anticipated between Bulger and those trying to bring him in we could have had a truly impressive film, but it falls into a baby pool’s depth of conflict one you realize you’re halfway done the film.
In the end, I still think Scott Cooper has some serious talent and knows how to get some of the most intriguing and well acted characters from all of his actors and can handle such an ensemble and story just so long he can confidently make it the proper length of time while also telling the story he wants to tell.
NEW SCORE: B