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Black Mass 2015 ***

Johnny Depp managed to briefly put his finger in the dam of recent bad publicity by pulling off a surprisingly sinister performance as gangster Whitey Bulger in this effective police drama set in Boston. Based on a high-profile case, Bulger is essentially the nemesis to Joel Edgerton’s cop, who discovers that Bulger’s connection to his politician brother (Benedict Cumberbatch) has given him a free pass to build and defend a criminal empire. Adam Scott, Kevin Bacon, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Johnson are along for the ride, and director Scott Cooper never lets the violent proceedings fall into Scorsese-by-numbers territory. And although he’s got less screen-time that the trailers and posters might have you expect, Depp is mesmerizing as Bulger, exuding a genuine malevolence that’s hard to shake off.

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