I don’t know what the overall critical response to this movie is, so I don’t know if I’m going with or against the crowd when I say this, but I’ll say it anyway. This movie is bad.
I believe that a movie begins and ends with the script, and this script is very poor. And Scott Cooper’s direction (which can best be described as ‘exceptionally average’) doesn’t help matters. But just saying ‘the script’ is too general. I can’t really fault the story, since it’s all true, and the dialogue isn’t half bad.
No, the problem is the pacing.
Through a combination of bad writing and bad editing, the film is way, way too slow. I didn’t feel like I got to know any of these people, or like I had gone back to this time period. The whole time, I was just looking at a screen, waiting for it to be over. And that is not the mark of a good film.
Johnny Depp is the only highlight here. It’s not what you’d call a great performance – the closest thing I can compare it to would be Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher. But he has a few good scenes. An Oscar nomination would not be unlikely, especially given how this year seems to be pretty weak for Lead Actor (How many years can you say that?) And the supporting cast is all serviceable.
But even Depp and some solid work in the tech categories cannot save this film. The simple truth is that a movie about the mob and gangsters should not be this slow paced. And I can only hope that Black Mass won’t be a major player in Awards Season, because it doesn’t deserve it.
(P.S. I totally got Mad Max: Fury Road from the library and as soon as this review is published, I’m watching it.)