His character's receding blond hair slicked back, his eyes an icy, vindictive blue, Johnny Depp vanishes behind the shuddersome visage of infamous Boston mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger in chilling crime docudrama "Black Mass." It is impossible to deny Depp's range as an actor, but with a career that has in recent years been predominately dotted with broad, flamboyantly quirky parts like the rum-swilling Captain Jack Sparrow in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, maladjusted candy maker Willy Wonka in 2005's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," the unhinged Mad Hatter in 2010's "Alice in Wonderland," scorned vampire Barnabas Collins in 2012's "Dark Shadows," Camanche spirit warrior Tonto in 2013's "The Lone Ranger," and the bumbling, ridiculously mustachioed title art dealer in 2015's "Mortdecai," it takes a subtler, grittier, more earthly role to remind just how beautifully he can reel back the outward showmanship and dig deep within.
Directed by Scott Cooper (2013's "Out of the Furnace") with the vengeful precision of an assassin's scope, "Black Mass" traverses the tangled, unsettlingly dark days during the 1970s and '80s when Jimmy Bulger played both sides, manipulating the FBI as an informant against the Angiulo mafia family while running an Irish mob crew called the Winter Hill Gang. Straddling both sides and protecting what he knows are nefarious dealings involving racketeering, money laundering, extortion and murder is tight childhood pal John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), an FBI agent torn between his professional duties and his loyalty to Jimmy. For a long while, Jimmy's cooperation with the Feds grants him immunity from criminal activities the Bureau chooses not to acknowledge, but as his dirty deeds pile up, the truth about his crooked connection with federal, state and local law enforcement starts catching up with all involved.
See Dustin Putman, TheFilmFile.com. for full review