BLACK MASS “This is how many Pirates of the Caribbeans I should’ve made.”
  • BLACK MASS “This is how many Pirates of the Caribbeans I should’ve made.”

Look, I'm not saying that any harm should come to whoever first compared Johnny Depp to Marlon Brando, but I do hope that they at least feel a little bit guilty. While their raw talent may well be comparable, Depp moved far too quickly to his idol's final phase as a performer, where self-amusement and silly voices trump everything else.

Touted as a return to Depp's early form, the gangster saga Black Mass encouragingly shows that it may be a bad idea to write off Depp quite yet. (Yes, even after Tusk.) The actor's love of makeup has, if anything, intensified; Here, he festoons himself with bad teeth, an elfin nose, and malamute eyes with fascinatingly grotesque results. (Some shots suggest that his mustache from Mortdecai may even still be attached, a few strata down.) What's new, however, is that he doesn't seem content with just pleasing himself this time, engaging with the material to create a full-blooded, occasionally terrifying center of attention. Unfortunately, the film can't quite measure up to this level of intensity, adopting a somber pace at odds with its star's level of enthusiasm. Despite Depp's full participation—and an even better performance by Joel Edgerton as a hapless FBI blowfish—Black Mass never really maintains its own charge.