“Black Mass” will mark the first time in probably a decade since Johnny Depp did not play “Johnny Depp.” You know the ones — those sad renditions and variations on Jack Sparrow. It’s an endearing kind of character, but the joke really expired in 2005. We’ve all come to expect the same old song and dance from the three-time Academy Award nominee.

Black Mass


Warner Bros.

Sept. 18, 2015

Well, Depp reinvents himself here as Whitey Bolger, the savage Irish-American crime boss from Boston who created the Winter Hill Gang. Bolger is famous for serving as an FBI informant for several years until fleeing supervision in the mid-1990s. He remained at large for 16 years until the age of 81 when he was apprehended in Santa Monica.

“Black Mass” focuses on the period in the late 1970s and early ’80s when Bolger rose to criminal prominence. A star-studded cast of supporting talent, which includes Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson and Kevin Bacon, gives the film a strong sense of character — obviously with Bolger at the helm.

The most unnerving aspect of Depp’s character seems to be the way in which he compels people to betray their secrets, beliefs and alliances. He narrows his blue eyes, gets tense about the shoulders, inverts the natural smirk on his face and he digs. He digs straight to the things guarded and buried deep.  

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