It's hardly news to say that Johnny Depp's bankability as a movie star has lost a bit of its luster over the past few years. With flops like Lone Ranger, Transcendence, and Mortdecai recently under his belt, he's arguably in danger of falling off the A-list completely. And while he is returning to franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean and Alice in Wonderland with new sequels, he's looking for a career revitalization by taking on the role of real-life gangster Whitey Bulger in Scott Cooper's (Crazy Heart) Black Mass.
The first trailer for the film teased Depp's transformation into the terrifying Boston crime boss, showcasing how he completely immersed himself in the part in a scene reminiscent of something you'd see in Goodfellas. Now, as Warner Bros. looks to amp up the marketing with a little under four months until the film's theatrical debut, they have released a second trailer, which you can view above.
Much like the first preview, this can be considered a teaser, but that's not a detriment to its overall quality. While the first trailer focused more on the drama and ruthlessness of Bulger (his dialogue there is unnerving), this one balances out the seriousness of the situations with moments of comic relief. It's hard not to crack a smile as Bulger explains his life's philosophy to his young son, or as he's congratulated on his release from Alcatraz by a neighborhood elder. The dark comedy gives the trailer some personality and hopefully will make the full movie entertaining as well as compelling.
Other than that, this new preview follows a similar format to the first teaser, in that not much in terms of story is shown, just little out-of-context remnants of particular scenes. Outside of more bits of Bulger dispensing his brand of gangster justice, viewers also get some glances at fan-favorites like Joel Edgerton (playing FBI agent John Connolly) and Benedict Cumberbatch (portraying Bulger's brother Bill), but it seems as if their performances are being saved for the film's reveal. The focus so far is Depp and using his talents to sell audiences on the film. So far, that strategy is working, as there's still much from Black Mass we haven't seen yet (adding to our excitement for seeing it).
Those following the development of Whitey Bulger biopics may recall that a while back, Bostonians Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were considering teaming up for one, with Affleck calling the shots and Damon playing Bulger. As recently as 2013, they said that the existence of Black Mass would not dissuade them from doing their project. However, that was well before Affleck became the new Batman and Damon announced his return to the Bourne series. Both are going to have their hands tied for a while, and considering WB is Affleck's home studio, it seems unlikely they would commission two movies of the same person's life. Hollywood likes to repeat itself (see: Steve Jobs), but even that would be going too far.
So, for the time being, moviegoers eager to see the reign of Bulger unfold on the big screen are going to have to make do with Cooper's film. And that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Depp looks entirely committed to the role and maintains a strong screen presence that commands everyone's attention, and the supporting cast is top-notch too. In addition, this looks like a very well-realized film on a directorial level, with Cooper seemingly having a firm grasp on the grand scale and scope of a great American crime drama. Time will tell if Black Mass will be Scorsese-esque or "Scorsese light," but from where we stand right now, things look very promising indeed.
Black Mass will be in theaters September 18, 2015.
Source: Warner Bros. Pictures
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