CAPONE is an odd duck of a movie. If you eventually ever watch it, you’ll understand that I meant that statement to be taken multiple ways. It isn’t a good movie, but it isn’t necessarily a bad one either. The most commendable attribute about it is that writer/director Josh Trank complete vision. He wrote the screenplay, he directed the entire thing, he even fucking edited it himself. No studio meddling, complete control. And if you know the history of filmmaker Josh Trank, you’ll think that this movie must’ve been relaxing and cathartic for him. This is Josh Trank’s third film. He directed the incredible Chronicle back in 2012…and he directed the 2015 re do of Fantastic Four and if you’ve ever happen to watch that…yeah. Look it up the latter, is is less than 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. The whole Fantastic Four story is a bit of an extraordinary tale if you ever want to do any research. For a crash course on it from yours truly, know that there was so much studio meddling with that film that only really the first half of the movie is his, while the entire 2nd and 3rd act was 20th Century Fox executives and Simon Kinberg fault. They didn’t trust Trank with what they were seeing and they thought they knew better. They were wrong, as the first half of that movie works beautifully and it was the studio meddling that made the whole thing a studio disaster. That ending, directed by Kinberg, is one of the worst finales to ever grace the silver screen. The meddling caused Trank to get depressed and display erratic & dangerous behavior on set, which led to him quitting (some say he was fired) directing the solo Boba Fett movie from Lucasfilm that we never got. Anyway, Capone is his first film since, and while it is TONS better than that Marvel Frankenstein monster we got 5 years ago, the film itself is…odd? That’s really the best way I can describe it. Odd place in time in Al Capone’s life for a movie for audiences. Odd (yet a little mesmerizing) lead performance from Tom Hardy. And odd visuals from Mr. Trank. The only way I think I can recommend this film is if you are obsessed with gangster films, obsessed with Al Capone’s life, and wanted a sort of, but not really, semi unneeded sequel to The Untouchables. I however, will probably never watch it again.
To be fair, the films visuals are probably the best thing about it. Josh Trank certainly has an eye for the camera. The movie is about a 47-year old Al Capone, who, after about a decade in prison, starts suffering from dementia and comes to be haunted by his violent past. The whole hour and 40 is him losing his mind and having very vivid dementia. He just goes back to several points in his past, like a party for him or him killing a close friend for betrayal, and living those moments with huge regret. During this giant dementia trip, the FBI are listening in to see if he happens to re remember the location of where he buried 10 million dollars on his property. If you’ve done your research on the man, you’ll know how that turns out. Some of the problem with the movie is that some scenes are supposed to be very dramatic, but the finished elements of the scene makes it all unintentionally laughable. For example, Al Capone, near the end of the film, has a golden tommy gun, shooting at things while running around in an adult diaper. It is supposed to be sad because the guy was suffering from paresis and had the mind of a 12 year old near the end of his life, yet watching Tom Hardy ham it up while running around an adult diaper made me laugh. And with the dramatic music and heavy violence coming out of the screen, it made the whole affair surreal, and not in a good kind of way. Like I said, an odd duck indeed. There are several good sequences in it though, such as Capone in his dementia, remembering and old party and then going out on the street where his men were being shot, had great visuals, music, and acting by Tom Hardy. But the rest of it, came off kind of…well…boring.
The main problem with doing an Al Capone film at the end of his life where he’s losing his mind is that…no one wants to see a movie using the real life character in that way. Or if we are treated to that part of his life, it needs to be in a grand 2 and a half hour to 3 hour epic bio pic in the vein of The Irishman that really digs into his massive crimes back in the day during prohibition. Seeing a real life figure losing his mind is probably supposed to be more of a trip than it was. And definitely shouldn’t be unintentionally funny in parts. Which brings us to Tom Hardy, who I usually consider a phenomenal actor. He is in a different movie here. He feels like he should be in something else entirely on the other end of the spectrum, like a bad henchman in a new Dick Tracy movie or a main villain in a Bond film. More so than a serious non fiction bio pic where you are supposed to feel sorry for the guy even though he killed a bunch of people. He hams it up the entire time, he’s way too over the top, and sometimes he is unintelligible, even more so than when he had a mask over his face in The Dark Knight Rises. He should’ve taken his performance and put it in a new DCEU film and he would’ve fit right along with the tone and atmosphere. Here, and in my opinion, he was very, very miscast. Sorry Mr. Trank, I know it must be an honor to work with someone like Tom Hardy but he just picked the wrong performance to do for your film. His performance might not have been so jarring if everyone wasn’t playing it straight around him, and it was supposed to be some kind of a satire. But Linda Cardellini and Matt Dillon act circles around him, and they are barely in the movie. Like I said, Capone isn’t a good or a bad film. It’s just unnecessarily there. I would never watch it again. However, if Mr. Trank would like to make another film where he has complete control again, I would not hesitate to check it out. Hell he should maybe do a redo of this and do a whole bio pic on Mr. Capone, I would definitely love to see that. I just didn’t really care about his dementia years. Though I would suggest that maybe, whatever film he does next, that he not only hire a lead actor whose performance matches the tone of his film, that he still sticks to editing and directing, and even having a hand in the story, but maybe give screenplay duties to someone else, make everything a little tighter. The tone is this needed much more balancing. A noble effort, but an odd one. I am glad that he is happy with his film no matter what anyone says. That’s what really counts.