This must be cinematic redemption week.
Yesterday I was talking about how Ryan Reynolds had never made a good movie, but just triumphed with his massive box office hit "Deadpool".
A much longer discussion lately has been the fact that it's been a VERY long time since Johnny Depp has made a movie worth watching.
For me, I'd have to go all the way back to 2003 and the original Pirates of the Caribbean to name a Depp film I truly enjoyed. 13 years later, Depp pulls himself out of the dreck with an amazing performance in BLACK MASS.
Depp oozes unstable menace in his biographical, true-life portrayal of James "Whitey" Bulger, a south Boston neighborhood criminal who rises to the top of the dirt-bag food chain.
Bulger does it with the unabashed assistance of childhood friend John Connolly, now an FBI agent who enlists Bulger as a high level informant.
The two men's lifelong bond as fellow "Southies" from the tough streets binds them still, with Connolly bending every rule to paint Bulger as a golden informant while Whitey feeds them tidbits to eliminate his competition and enable his rise up the crime ladder.
Depp is fantastic, becoming Bulger with the help of some terrific make up, strong voice work and a pent up performance that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Walking old ladies home with their groceries one minute and going full Joe Pesci "Goodfellas" mode the next, Depp is better than he's been in years.
What a great surrounding cast. Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty) is great as Connolly, dripping misplaced loyalty and triumph.
Benedict Cumberbatch is Bulger's brother, a senior politician in Boston. Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard, Adam Scott and Corey Stoll are all terrific in key roles.
Jesse Plemons follows up his great work in Fargo, Season 2, with a key role as Kevin, Bulger's new driver and right hand man that becomes our conduit into Bulger's empire.
David Harbour, a character actor you've seen for years, breaks out in a great role as Connolly's partner, at first sharing the glory on the FBI victories fed by Bulger's tips, but then tortured by the facts as they emerge.
The fact that this is a true story is fascinating, all the more so when the end credits are shown over pictures of the real folks and updates on their current status.
Truth truly is stranger than fiction.
Kudos to Depp for his best work in years, still aided by the makeup, hair and voice work he loves to employ, but this time put to chilling effect to create a real-life monster.
BLACK MASS is a violent, Scorcese-like crime thriller that packs a punch.
An old man in a Members Only jacket and giant aviators has never been so chilling.....
Depp and Company get a strong B.