“Black Mass” First Trailer Reaction: Here’s Johnny! (not Sucking)

When was the last time you were legitimately excited about a Johnny Depp movie? Be honest. Maybe you thought he and Tim Burton would pay appropriate homage to Alice in Wonderland (and were wrong). Or, before that, perhaps you thought a more faithful take on Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was warranted (also wrong). Mortdecai? The Lone Ranger? Dark Shadows? Holy shit, Depp probably hasn’t done anything worthwhile in this century, with the possible exception of the first Pirates of the Caribbean flick. So, it is a relief to see him put down the makeup and funny hats and return to a serious role with Black Mass, which released its first full-length trailer recently.

Black Mass is set to tell the story of Whitey Bulger (played by Depp), a South-Boston organized crime boss notorious for violence and who began a career as an FBI-informant in 1975. The trailer opens with Bulger talking with an acquaintance over a steak dinner (this scene comprised the entirety of the teaser released a month or so ago). Bulger implores his buddy to provide the recipe, but he refuses with the politic answer of, “It’s a family recipe”. But Bulger hounds him, and eventually procures the secret. Then, in a horrifying tone shift, Bulger and his piercing blue eyes take offense that his friend would part with a secret so easily. The justification offered is the defensive, “I’m just saying . . .” and Bulger’s retort is cut with scenes of violence, mob business, and other crimes: “Just saying got me nine years in Alcatraz”.

The trailer is definitely Depp-heavy, focusing on his portrayal of the mob boss, but other stars appear in fleeting moments. The talent assembled for this movie definitely ups the wow factor: Joel Edgerton, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Benedict Cumberatch, and Peter Sarsgaard show up, among others. This is just the first full trailer for Black Mass, which is set for a September 18th release date, so there is a lot of time for the marketers of this flick to release more content, but for now I love how little of the plot this trailer shows. We get the characteristics of Whitey Bulger established very well, and get to see him intimidating everyone and interacting with a few of the other characters, but we really do not receive any context for those interactions. In lieu of showing us the story, the trailer is content with providing us the tone of the film – and that is how you drum up excitement for a crime film (or any film for that matter). I will be so happy if the film follows through on the promise of the trailer – I am tired of wacky, weird, and forgettable Johnny Depp, and eagerly await the return of badass Johnny Depp. Don’t let me down, Black Mass!

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