Johnny Depp will return to his roots as a dramatic character actor in the upcoming gangster biopic Black Mass. The film stars Depp as the infamous Boston gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, alongside an impressive supporting cast that includes Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch as Bill Bulger – Whitey’s brother and onetime Massachusetts senator – and Joel Edgerton (Warrior, Exodus: Gods and Kings) as FBI agent John Connolly, as well as numerous respected acting vets in supporting roles.
The first trailer released for Black Mass highlights Depp’s performance as the menacing, but at the same time charismatic, Whitey Bulger, while the second theatrical preview goes further in depth with its examination of the gangster’s twisted outlook on the world. Warner Bros. has now unveiled a third and likely final Black Mass trailer (see above) that dives more properly into the film’s narrative.
Here is the official synopsis for the Black Mass movie:
In 1970s South Boston, FBI Agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) persuades Irish mobster James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) to collaborate with the FBI and eliminate a common enemy: the Italian mob. The drama tells the story of this unholy alliance, which spiraled out of control, allowing Whitey to evade law enforcement, consolidate power, and become one of the most ruthless and powerful gangsters in Boston history.
Black Mass is based on the book “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob”, by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. That source material was adapted by first-time scribe Mark Mallouk (an executive producer on Rush) and the established screenwriter Jez Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow, Get on Up). Those writers’ combined track record, coupled with the latest trailer footage, suggests that Black Mass may do a solid job of distilling Whitey Bulger’s real-world antics into a compelling film narrative.
Black Mass is arriving at a good time in Depp’s career, seeing as the actor is coming off a string of lead turns that weren’t much better received than the films they were in (see: Dark Shadows, The Lone Ranger, Mortdecai). Black Mass director Scott Cooper has earned a reputation for being a solid “actor’s director”; Jeff Bridges took home an Oscar for his work on Cooper’s directorial debut, Crazy Heart, while the cast performances were the best-received element of Cooper’s sophomore feature, Out of the Furnace. As such, it appears the union of Depp and Cooper could be rewarding for both parties.
Rounding out the Black Mass cast are Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of Grey), Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad), Kevin Bacon (The Following), Corey Stoll (Ant-Man), Peter Sarsgaard (Blue Jasmine), Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), Juno Temple (Far from the Madding Crowd), W. Earl Brown (True Detective), and Julianne Nicholson (Masters of Sex), among others.
Black Mass opens in U.S. theaters on September 18th, 2015.