Black Mass looked to be one of the seasons first and best Oscar contenders, yet only really succeeded at crossing the line before anyone else. The only Oscar buzz that will most likely end up materializing as a result of this film, is the standout performance of Johnny Depp, who places himself alongside Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs) as front-runners for Best Actor consideration. There is already a lot of chatter in regards to Joel Edgerton potentially receiving Best Supporting Actor recognition, but Edgerton already out-acted himself in the same category, earlier in this year's surprise hit, The Gift.
Relatively new director, Scott Cooper (Out of the Furnace, Crazy Heart), looked to put himself on the map with this potential breakout hit, but will most likely end up forgotten in, what looks to be, a promising Oscar season.
Tonal shifts were inconsistent, and the film's score, at times, did not match the mood of the corresponding scenes. Questionable casting of both, Benedict Cumberbatch and Dakota Johnson, also served to hold back a film, that frankly, displayed a lot of wasted potential - although for different reasons. Cumberbatch is a tremendous actor who's talents were wasted in a small role that did not quite fit, while Johnson offers up a mediocre showing, unfortunately juxtaposed with Johnny Depp's incredibly strong performance.
That being said, this movie is not all bad. There is some incredible cinematography that offer Black Mass some real style and serve to build tension in several scenes. Cooper enables Depp to delve into the character of James 'Whitey' Bulger, and sets the stage for dramatic shifts in character that truly take the audience by surprise.
At the end of the day, the theme of this movie is missed opportunity. The difference between the floor and the ceiling of this film is dramatic. While the final act of the film is certainly stronger then the slow, unnecessary beginning sequences, the end leaves the viewer somewhat unsatisfied.
Score: 6.5 This film is certainly worth a watch, but does not live up to the history of prominent mob movies.