‘Capone’ Movie Review: Josh Trank Lets Tom Hardy Go Too Far
Capone? More like Crapone, amirite? It’s okay to say that because it’s not just a judgement of the movie, but a major plot point of the film that Al Capone (Tom Hardy) literally craps his pants. There have been great movies about this real life gangster (The Untouchables, The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, Al Capone) and bad ones (the 1975 Capone was a bore). At least Josh Trank went all in with his comeback film. Capone really goes down swinging.
The nonlinear Al Capone
The film focuses on the last year of the gangster’s life, although it covers more than that in the strangest way possible. He flashes back to his past, or hallucinates about events. So did they happen or is it all part of his deteriorating state? It’s rather incomprehensible for a film based on historical facts one could Google, let alone read in a history book.
Capone can’t remember where he’s misplaced $10 million so naturally there are other interested parties, on both sides of the law. They call him Fonzo, lest the criminal name ever be spoken. Some think the location of the money is buried somewhere in his deteriorated physical and mental state. However, his naturally violent impulses make that state dangerous too.
Tom Hardy overdoes it
It’s easy to see why Hardy wanted to do this movie. Not only is Al Capone a legendary character, but playing him at this point in his life allows Hardy to go extreme with his performance. Hardy is pretty out there doing an accent plus a voice ravaged by drinking and smoking, singing Wizard of Oz songs, plus old age makeup, plus lack of physical control.
It’s too much. Hardy is a great actor, but a director should have reigned him in. At best, Hardy and Trank are fetishizing Capone’s ailing condition, and this is not the best case scenario. It’s overindulgent, and the old age and scarring makeup looks cheap and artificial.
Supporting actors are trapped in Hardy’s wake. Linda Cardellini plays Capone’s wife. Kyle MacLachlan plays his doctor. Matt Dillon, Noel Fisher and more actors play it straight, but there’s no grounding what Hardy is doing.
What’s it all about, Al Capone?
Capone establishes early on that he’s lost control of his bodily functions. By the time a dramatic confrontation climaxes with poopy sound effects, it’s comical. The point may be that he’s not the intimidating Al Capone of legend anymore, or even that he’s more vulnerable than he’ll admit, but there’s no delicacy to the portrayal. When the technique is that blatant it sabotages the drama.
Ultimately, Capone comes to no conclusion about the famous gangster. It just indulges and then ends. Even the final text reads like part of it is missing. Not that the perfect text would explain the rest of the movie. It’s just the final reminder that Capone is a mess that never seemed to know what its own point was anyway.
It definitely feels like an uncompromised vision of exactly the Al Capone movie Trank and Hardy wanted to make. They truly said exactly what they wanted to say with no studio interference. Capone is now out on all major VOD platforms.