“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!

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

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  1. Your comments about Johnny Depp’s recent career have piqued my curiosity as to your opinion on Public Enemies and Rango, if you’ve seen them – both are fascinating films and, although the latter’s success can mostly be credited to it’s sheer originality, the former is only as good as it is because of Depp’s chilling performance as Dillinger. It says something that he’s the best in a cast containing Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard, I think. I know the movie’s reception was mixed at time of release but it seems there’s been a collective critical re-evaluation recently and it’s rightfully taken its place besides Heat and The Insider in the canon of Mann’s masterpieces. What would be your take on it?

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    1. I loved Rango, and I think you’re spot-on as to the reason why I enjoyed i so much (and wasn’t the only one, either). Sometimes I remember great voice-over or motion-capture performances when considering an actor’s work, and sometimes I don’t. Don’t really know why. We can include that in Depp’s successes, but like you said – that could be due to the uniqueness of the film.

      As for “Public Enemies”, I have found myself in the minority with that film, as I considered it incredibly boring and fraught with problems the first time I watched it, much to my surprise. In fact, I recall rolling my eyes and checking my watch to do some remaining-runtime math. I think my problems with it centered around how little weight I ascribed to the relationships in the story, plus I feel like Christian Bale’s character was foolish to the point of it being a distraction. Eventually I just stopped caring too much about anyone in face of what felt like a number of absurd plot elements (I am aware it is based on things that actually happened, but I think the way Mann chose to portray them really rubbed me the wrong way or something). All that being said, I have only watched the film once – so maybe I was in a bad mood and was being too hard on it. I will admit that Depp was by far the standout in that film, so it may be appropriate to count it among his recent successes. And, if that is the case, perhaps we can be even more excited for his turn in “Black Mass”, as his best performance of the last 15-20 years was portraying an eerily similar character (ditto for “Blow” – which I love).

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