Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Alfonse “Al” Capone (Tom Hardy) was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore. At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Alfonse’s mind and his past becomes present. Harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life. As he spends his final year surrounded by family with the FBI lying in wait, this ailing patriarch struggles to place the memory of the location of millions of dollars he hid away on his property.
I genuinely feel bad for Josh Trank, who serves as the director, screenwriter, and editor on the film Capone, an unconventional and slow-moving biopic focusing on the infamous gangster in the last year of his life. Why do I feel bad for him? Well, it’s because his previous directorial effort was none other than the widely hated Fantastic Four film released back in 2015.
It’s a shame that the movie was as bad as it was. Even before that film came out, he proved himself to be a greatly talented filmmaker with 2012’s Chronicle, in which a group of high-schoolers obtain special powers, but soon have to face the deadly consequences of their actions.
He just seemed like a wholly unique filmmaker and many people were quite curious to see what he would do next after that film. Everything seemed to be going so well, and then… Fantastic Four was released. Apparently, there was a bunch of studio interference with that film and so I, and many others, were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Going into Capone, my excitement levels were decently high. I didn’t go in expecting an absolute masterpiece, but I was hoping it would be a lot better than Fantastic Four. And although it most certainly is, I have to admit that Capone is still not a good movie.
The main reason as to why is, unfortunately, due to Trank’s screenplay. This is genuinely surprising when you consider that in addition to directing Chronicle, he co-wrote the script with Max Landis, which was a suspense-filled thrill-ride. Sadly, Capone isn’t any of those things. I understand that the first act is usually there to set up characters, but who said it had to be this boring?
For the first thirty to forty minutes, all we see happen is a few things. To list just a few, Capone accidentally pooping his pants in bed, trying to shoot a fish he didn’t get catch out on a boat, yelling at various people, and smoking a cigar while grumbling.
Admittedly, Tom Hardy delivers a truly fantastic performance as the titular character. This is definitely one of those performances that is going to be sadly overlooked during the upcoming awards season, and it’s a shame. Here, Hardy feels remarkably cold and intimidating. Even though he may be an old man and can’t move around as well as he used to, you still get the feeling that if you cross him, you’re going to be in serious, serious, trouble. It’s brilliant.
I just wish that Hardy had more things to do here. He gets saddled into a story that doesn’t know what it wants to be. One minute it wants to be a slow-moving, fairly simple biopic about Al Capone, and the next it tries to be an over-the-top crime movie with no thrills. It almost feels like a day in the life movie.
This is so strange to me, considering that this is a movie based on one of the most notorious gangsters in human history. I get it. He is old here, and Trank wanted to tell that side of him, but just seeing a man’s day-to-day life simply can’t be entertaining, no matter who it is based upon.
Tom Hardy is remarkably cold and intimidating in Capone, an otherwise painstakingly dull and uninteresting story of a notorious gangster in the final year of his life.
Overall Grade: D+
MPAA Rating: R for strong/bloody violence, pervasive language and some sexuality
Directed by: Josh Trank
Distributed by: Vertical Entertainment
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Running Time: 103 minutes