Directed by: Josh Trank
Premise: After spending a decade in prison and suffering from dementia, Al Capone (Tom Hardy) is released to his home in Florida. While his mental capacities continue to decline, Capone reflects on his life.
What Works: The main attraction of Capone is Tom Hardy’s performance in the title role. This is the kind of part that Hardy throws himself into and he plays the late gangster with bravado but also humanity. Hardy is an effective choice for writer and director Josh Trank’s take on the subject. Rather than telling a traditional cradle-to-grave biography or focusing on Capone at the height of his power, this picture dramatizes the gangster in the last year of his life. In this film, Capone is a shadow of his former self with his mind and body falling to pieces. We can see traces of the intimidating figure he once was but the Al Capone of this film is mostly pathetic and confused. He’s been released from prison to his impressive Florida estate but many of the statues and other ornaments of the place are being sold off to pay for Capone’s lifestyle. He gradually becomes paranoid about who he can trust and what is real, as reality and delusion collide. The film is about a patriarch watching his legacy gradually come apart and it’s a unique take on the biopic and gangster genres.
What Doesn’t: Capone never quite comes together. That is partly the point; Capone’s mental state is fractured and increasingly so as the story moves along. But the picture’s confusion isn’t just thematic. Capone often feels like a series of disconnected parts. He is paranoid that his business associates and members of his family might be taking advantage of him but this possibility is not built up credibly. The film never creates any drama of Capone’s mental incapacity. It also fails to provide enough backstory. This is a story about a man facing his mortality and accounting for his legacy but Capone doesn’t contextualize its flashbacks. We see some vague representations of his former life in Chicago but these images don’t add up to anything. The film’s portrait of the man comes across incomplete. We don’t ultimately learn anything about Capone nor does the film depict anything meaningful about mortality. The story isn’t working toward a conclusion and Al Capone’s loss is never really felt.
DVD extras: None.
Bottom Line: Capone has a great performance by Tom Hardy but it’s wasted in a film that doesn’t do anything with it. The film is too shapeless and disjointed and not in a way that makes sense.
Episode: #814 (August 23, 2020)