deconstructing trailers: BLACK MASS

BLACK MASS is the true story of gangster / FBI informant Whitey Bulger, portrayed by JOHNNY DEPP. From the extremely compelling trailer, it looks like Depp could deliver his best performance since DONNIE BRASCO…

I’m just sayin’.

This specific trailer is bold for its decision to focus on largely one scene. I loved the use of overlapped dialogue. We hear the dinner conversation, but we see future and past events of Bulger on the attack. We see him get rid of someone who talked.

It’s rather creepy considering the current conversation.

The trailer for BLACK MASS builds with intensity, mounting suspense, ratcheting it up to unbearable levels. Depp seduces information out of a causal dinner conversation. Underneath the guise of a family recipe, Bulger is really testing loyalty. Perhaps even going so far as looking for a rat at the dinner table.

a wise guy

The innocent proposition of a secret family recipe quickly shifts into a lethal ferocity as Bulger relies on his skills of deduction and instincts. He’s thinking, if this guy gives up a family secret, maybe he’ll give me up too. Once the family recipe is revealed, coaxed out with compliments, Depp slices at the tension filled air, “That’s it?”

I’m thinking he’s not talking about the secret ingredients. I’m thinking Bulger means that’s all it took to get this guy to divulge a secret.

The man doesn’t get the big fuss, it’s just a recipe. Depp coldly retorts, “No.” A dull bell tolls… for whom? Fu**in’ Johnny Depp at his most lethal on screen. The super effective cross-cutting begins. The bell keeps tolling, creating a rhythm for the images to burst along with. This technique forces you to the edge of your seat.

If one scene can capture our attention like this imagine what the rest of the film has in store.

Depp delivers such an intimidating performance here. The dialogue crackles with intensity like the man is charged by galvanized Tesla coils.

Just sayin gets people sent away. Just sayin got me a nine year stretch in Alcatraz. You understand. Just sayin can get you buried real quick.

A moment as the threat settles… then Depp erupts with laughter. Wow. Shivers, man. Just sayin. Then Depp caps it off with the gem, “Look at his face”.

Depp is only one of several strong casting choices. This dinner scene also features JOEL EDGERTON (WARRIOR, GREAT GATSBY) sitting rather uncomfortably as the conversation boils to a simmer. Perhaps Edgerton plays an undercover role or is the one gangster onto Bulger as an FBI informant.

The trailer also briefly shows co-star BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH. I wonder what his role will entail.

JUNO TEMPLE

And one of my favourite young actresses, JUNO TEMPLE (HORNS, JACK & DIANE, KILLER JOE), also joins the ensemble. She has quite a varied career thus far, and does not shy away from controversial roles (ie: J&D a lesbian love story with werewolves).

SCOTT COOPER directs the bold cast of this notorious true story. His impressive work with character in CRAZY HEART and INTO THE FURNACE bodes well for BLACK MASS.

It is so good to see Depp acting in something more dramatic again (like BLOW and FINDING NEVERLAND). Sure, he’s still transformed with make-up, but not to seem fantastic in a imaginary land, rather for realism. He’s loosing himself in the role again – like Depp expertly succeeded previously with Donnie Brasco and Hunter S. Thompson in FEAR & LOATHING. I really like Depp as an actor.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS was his best role in make-up, and furthermore his best role in the fantasy genre. However, Depp has much more to offer. Look no further than his smaller films from the 90s that were focused on character.

Hopefully, BLACK MASS is a sign of things to come. This trailer was simply fantastic.

Hopefully, we have more Oscar contending roles from Mr. GILBERT GRAPE.

If the trailer is any indication, this true crime film will be truly intense.


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