To make Depp a convincing 80-year-old version of Bulger, he spent over three hours on his makeup, according to the magazine. After prancing from one fantastical role to another, as though he lost a crummy bet to Tim Burton sometime in the mid ’90s and really enjoyed the piles of cash Bruckheimer and Disney threw at him for Pirates, it’s a relief to see the veteran so alive, so visceral, and so overwhelming.
It’s a solid film, with an impressive central performance by Johnny Depp as Boston crime lord James “Whitey” Bulger, but it never rises to the level of greatness like “The Godfather” or even “Goodfellas”. The actor, who plays Whitey Bulger in “Black Mass”, joined several of his cast mates and director Scott Cooper at a special screening of the movie Tuesday at the Coolidge Corner Theatre, and the reaction among those gathered to gawk was, well, exuberant. Connolly’s wife is upstairs, both angry and fearful about the social engagement.
One of the best damn scene in the film has is hands down when Cnolly hosts a dinner at his place and Bulger quite smartly asks John Morris (David Harbour) who is Conolly’s supervisor about his “secret” family recipe. “When you’re playing someone who either existed or exists, there’s a tremendous amount of responsibility, at least for me”, he said. What am I going to do, play him like Lee Majors? Depp says. “How?” routine in Martin Scorsese’s gangland chronicle floats above the proceedings.
Assembling the emotional side of the deadly crime boss tended to be a work-in-progress as they filmed. Hopefully if (Bulger) is at all taken with the portrayal, hell come out of nowhere and maybe send a letter..
Here’s the rich part.
While Depp’s performance is second to none, the same won’t be said about Black Mass.
Rory Cochrane, who plays Bulger’s right-hand man, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, agreed.
Then comes the sweetheart deal, just as some Federal Bureau of Investigation higher-ups are getting suspicious about the leeway the local boys are giving Bulger. Just lay off the killing, Connolly says. Cooper, who previously directed insane Heart and Out of the Furnace after working as an actor, times and stages the violence for sharp visceral impact and street realism, avoiding operatic extremes as well as trendy fast cutting and ridiculous forms of physicality. Agent Connolly informed his pal that the Bureau had enough evidence to put him behind bars and throw away the key, though it was willing to look the other way in return for his cooperation as an undercover informant.
Speaking specifically of portraying Whitey Bulger, Depp spoke of the dedication of everyone in making sure the character was as authentic as possible, reports The Hollywood Reporter.
The book “Black Mass” was published in 2000, long before Bulger was brought to trial and convicted.
Edgerton at times edges over the caricature line as Connolly, but this is the risk a movie runs when it features an excellent Australian actor who’s good at dialects; sometimes the dialect leads the way. She plays a prostitute, naturally, but Bulger’s world was what it was.
Black Mass is a richly populated ensemble, including Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch and Julianne Nicholson. During the marinade dialogue, she’s upstairs, pretending to be sick to avoid being in Bulger’s fearsome company.
“I have a problem watching films of any kind, unless it’s a documentary”, he told Jimmy Kimmel.
Finally, Johnny Depp sheds all the ridiculous make-up and extravagances for a pair a contacts, a receding hairline, and a most sinister role.