Film Review: Capone
Director: Josh Trank
Addictive Pictures and BRON Studios
Available on Video on Demand: 05.12
It’s time for me to open up about what happened last December. I still defend Solo as a good movie, and I loved The Last Jedi. Still, I have to admit that the Star Wars franchise has been seriously lacking in a cohesive vision and that some big mistakes have been made. The reason that I bring this up is because it is important to keep in mind that, still, at no point should anyone ever consider the notion that the firing of Josh Trank was one of those mistakes.
There is a sequence in Capone, the new film which chronicles the last days of the notorious Chicago gangster, as he suffers from the rages of syphilis and dementia, wherein the title character literally shits the bed. It’s almost impossible not to view this as a metaphor for writer/director Trank’s career, as Capone is his follow-up to Fantastic 4. In fairness, it is a step up from that film.
Tom Hardy stars as Alphonse Capone, who goes by “Fonz” these days, as he and (especially) his wife Mae (Linda Cardellini) want to put the days of “Scarface” Al behind them. Fonz in living in Florida after being released from prison early due to his rapidly deteriorating condition, and he spends his days going in and out of mental focus, ignoring his doctors, mistreating his wife, experiencing painful urination and trying to remember where he hid the last $10 million of his ill-gotten gains. Throughout this, both the feds and the mob breathe down his neck. In other words, it’s basically a preview of what awaits Donald Trump after he leaves the White House.
Hardy gives it his all, and it’s a very good, if shallow, scenery-chewing performance. While his extreme character voice may seem cartoonish, it’s almost a dead ringer for the real Capone—though to most of us it may feel wrong that he doesn’t sound like Robert De Niro. While it starts off vaguely promising, the film is plodding, pointless and deeply unpleasant. The more abstract sequences of Capone’s mental state play like a badly done salute to Stephen King (particularly The Shining), and the recurring image of a balloon is embarrassingly reminiscent of Pennywise the Clown.
Capone is a horribly unfocused take on a story that literally no one asked for, which seems to be the niche Trank is going for with his filmography. Hardy is intriguing and delivers a few solidly interesting moments—in particular a scene where he sings along to The Wizard of Oz. The perpetually underrated Cardellini is even better, making us wish the film was about Mae. However, the relentlessly bleak script and ham-fisted direction offer no insight whatsoever. If you want to know who Capone’s was, the 1990s television pilot for The Untouchables gave us a strong portrayal of his rise. If you want a good film about the effects of dementia, I highly recommend the indie gem Robot & Frank. If, and only if, you just can’t ever get enough of Puccini‘s “Nessun Dorma,” or you are dead set on seeing Hardy fire a tommy gun while wearing a diaper, is the pretentious and ill-conceived Capone worth your time—or the $9 it costs for a rental. –Patrick Gibbs