Al Capone is one of the most well-known real-world villains of history. The Chicago gangster has been the subject of endless novels, shows, and films. However, most iterations focus on him at his ascension on zenith of his crime career. Rarely do we see the crime lord in his last days, disgraced and haunted by dementia and his past. Filmmaker Josh Trank (coming off of the disgraced set of Fantastic 4 (2015) tries a comeback by bringing an unconventional look at the Italian-American gangster.
Capone (2020) takes place during Al Capone’s (Tom Hardy) last year of his life, when he has been released from prison to spend his last days with his family. We seem him in his mansion in Florida, still being haunted by the police and his scuttling family-members, all eager to see if he has a hidden fortune somewhere. However, as time goes by, Capone begins to break down both mentally and physically, he is no longer able to control his bowels, and an early on-set dementia (he was 48) begins to settle, blurring his line between the past and the present.
Josh Trank was able to burst onto the filmmaking scene with his found-footage superhero film Chronicle (2012), which was a refreshing and welcome take to the genre, which had not yet been completely saturated. He next got a try at a big superhero studio film, with a reimagining of the Fantastic Four, however, the film went down infamously, after he himself criticized studio involvement, and the result was a money-losing machine. This made Trank a pariah, with no producer daring to touch him. Thus I was eager to see if he could relaunch his promising career with this film, however, while Capone is set in an original time at Al Capone’s life, it is crafted in a messy and dull fashion.
Trank seems to want to employ a rather meditative perspective on Capone, using flashbacks to see his most violent forays. However, the film editing is extremely sloppy so that many viewers will be confused as to what is a flashback and what is in the present, what is real and what is imagined. This might have been a way to get viewers into the confused and dementia-induced mind of Capone himself, but its execution is done in such a distasteful way that it alienates the viewer rather than bring him/her in. There are many contradictions in the story as well, regarding imaginary characters, which are established as being real at first, and an infinite amount of subplots that seem to be building for a great reveal but are forgotten halfway through the runtime. The result is a film in which nothing happens, and yet in that silence we don’t get a self-reflection of Capone and his career either.
Capone is an overdrawn and boring film, which also fails to utilize one of its greatest weapons: Tom Hardy. The British character actor, is one of the best performers working today and yet he is so abandoned in this film that his performance strays into the exaggerated and goofy.
Trank is incapable of pulling off a comeback with this film, resulting in Capone being a sleep-inducing snooze-fest that brings absolutely no insight, entertainment, or practically anything of note to the table. Mr. Trank your chances are running out.