Reel Talk: “Black Mass,” movie or Johnny Depp’s filmography?


Jillian Leiby, JagWire opinions editor

Two weeks ago, I watched “Black Mass” with my father. I had high hopes. The ensemble cast was top notch and the movie had been hyped, primarily because of Johnny Depp’s performance as mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger. However, I did not enjoy it. It felt like an unevenly paced thriller, with very little thrills. More importantly, it felt like a tailor-made attempt to get Depp an Oscar nomination. I’ve never been a fan of those movies, but I’m even less of a fan when those movies don’t work. Instead of a transformative performance, Depp in “Black Mass” just seems to being doing an impression of a low, Bostonian accent.

This also begs a larger question about Depp’s overall career. Technically, he hasn’t had a lead role in a critically successful movie since 2010 — and that in was the animated movie “Rango.” Since then, he has appeared in a string of miscalculated dramas, comedies, musicals, sequels and adaptations. In 2014, he played The Wolf in “Into the Woods,” but, as much as I enjoyed that movie, he was not a standout.

Usually, when an actor has a bad filmography, I personally feel bad for her or him, as if I had something to do with it. Depp, however, has consistently made terrible film choices. “Black Mass” seems like an obvious career choice. A timely, gritty biopic with a complete transformation. A fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie? No one is seeing past the obvious cash grab the long-running series has become.

Maybe it wouldn’t bother me so much if the movie industry realized what Depp has become. Once we stop reporting on every aspect of his personal life or calling him a sex symbol, he’ll finally try to be a serious actor again. Honestly, I won’t be holding my breat

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