On October 17th 1931, Al Capone (Tom Hardy), the world’s most notorious gangster is sentenced to prison for income tax evasion (that’s how they caught him, not for all those other crimes – Murica, amirite?). Ten years on, he is released, having been deemed no longer a threat as he suffers from neurosyphilis and dementia. The film depicts the final year of his life, during which time he lives in Florida surrounded by his extended family.
In portraying his final days, ‘Capone’ recalls ventures like ‘Stan and Ollie’ or Judy’, as they too represent the last hurrah of their titular global superstars (obviously Al Capone is of a very different ilk).
One feels apprehensive over the fact that the biopic is directed by Josh Trank, who helmed the impressive ‘Chronicle’ but also the catastrophe that was 2015’s ‘Fantastic Four’. It turns out one has every reason to be hesitant and in spite there having been numerous movie classics inspired by the life of Capone, this feature is truly dreadful. It may be Trank’s worst film, as well as Tom Hardy’s.
Let’s start with Hardy’s performance, which is the very personification of that “Old Man Yells at Cloud” meme from ‘The Simpsons’. The ‘Venom’ star loves getting physically into a role, with this occasion being no exception, and applause is owed to the hair and makeup department for his transformation.
But the voice Hardy adapts for the role is thoroughly ridiculous and impossible to take seriously. He sounds like a cartoon character, the movie turning comical every time he opens his mouth. Yet it is a performance devoid of any humour or appeal, neglecting the fact that part of how Capone was able to exert such power was his charisma. You don’t feel anything for the guy. You just want to get away from this picture and all those within it.
That lead performance – supported by the likes of Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon and Kyle MacLachlan, with no particularly noteworthy performance – is indicative of another major issue with the movie. Tonally, it is completely all over the place. One is torn between feeling shocked and wanting to laugh. It is a thoroughly uncomfortable viewing experience, and not in an impressive or challenging way.
Add to that the fact that there are some truly grotesque moments in the movie. You’d want to have a strong stomach with all the blood and shi* (I kid you not, the man soils himself at least twice during the movie).
Then you have some mortifyingly obvious scenes, like the opening where Capone chases some children around the house (don’t these kids know what he’s done??). At another point, during a screening of ‘The Wizard of Oz’, he joins in with the Lion and starts to sing “If I Were King”. The ending is stupid as well, an over-the-top crescendo that (again) feels thoroughly obvious, and follows a whole lot of nothing.
Even firm Tom Hardy fans will readily admit this movie is a disaster. It’s truly, in a word, revolting.
'Capone' is streaming on Netflix now.