The Black Mass Trailer Sets Up What Could Be Johnny Depp's Best Movie In Years

Just the other day we got our first look at Johnny Depp decked out in heavy makeup to play real-life Boston gangster Whitey Bulger in the upcoming Black Mass. Well, it didn’t take long for us to get out first trailer, and if you thought Depp’s Bulger looks terrifying in that photo, just wait until you get a load of him in what looks like it could be his best performance in quite some time. Check it out below.

As it turns out, when one of your dinner guests is a brutal, notorious gangster, things can go from amicable and fun to straight up terrifying in a mere manner of seconds. That’s most of what you see in this Black Mass trailer that just hit the streets. With those cool blue eyes, and that calm, gravelly tone of voice, Depp is totally transformed here. It reminds you of what he can do when he’s not just putting on silly hats and affected accents.

His monologue about the troubles of "just saying" sends shivers up your spine, and in the end, it will probably call to mind another similar scene, Joe Pesci’s "what’s so funny" speech from Goodfellas. Sure, they’re different in many ways, but they both hinge on that moment where things go from light-hearted to super tense in a single beat. And both flip back the other way just as quick, but you know the character will never look quite the same to you afterwards.

That’s the bulk of the action you see here. Most of the remainder is taken up with quick flashes of the South Boston gangster, who became a long-time FBI informant when the Mafia tried to muscle in on his turf, showing just how violent and fearsome he is. You also get a few quick snippets and shots of the crazy-stacked all-star cast, which in addition to Johnny Depp, includes Dakota Johnson, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juno Temple, Adam Scott, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard, and many more.

Bulger was charming and beloved by the people of his neighborhood, viewed almost like a Robin Hood kind of figure. The brother of a state senator, he rose to prominence by displaying a ruthless nature, but was also protected by the FBI once he became an informant, and they turned a blind eye to his brutal dealings in exchange for information. He even walked away after killing people in broad daylight. Check out the excellent documentary Whitey: The United States v. James J. Bulger for a chilling look at the man and his crimes. To hone in on the intimidating style, Depp and director Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace) examined FBI surveillance tapes and photos to capture Bulger’s persona.

Black Mass opens everywhere September 18.

Brent McKnight