Capone (2020)

Tom Hardy plays Al Capone in Josh Trank's biopic.

Review
CAPONE (2020)
Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan, Noel Fisher
Directed by Josh Trank
 
Writer-director Josh Trank must hate Al Capone. How else do you explain this dreadful biopic? If your idea of a good time includes Tom Hardy under heavy prosthetics pooping in bed and peeing in his pants, while more flies than “The Amityville Horror” circle around, then I’ve got a movie for you. If Trank's intention was to make an avant-garde film, in part he succeeds.  But overall "Capone" is just bizarre and without much of a plot.  
 
In 1931, Capone was sentenced to prison for tax evasion. His physical and mental abilities began to deteriorate rapidly while in lockup so after a decade he was no longer deemed a threat and released to live in exile while under surveillance by the feds.  The film's setting is a mansion in Palm Island, Florida where former gangster Al “Scarface” Capone (Tom Hardy) is surrounded by family including wife Mae (Linda Cardellini) and adult son Junior (Noel Fisher). He’s only 48, but the dementia and late-stage syphilis have left the notorious gangster with the mentality of a 12-year old.  
 
Through most of the film Capone sits outdoors staring out at a swamp on his property filled with alligators while he mumbles incoherently, sounding like Nick Nolte fighting a cold. He’s only clearly understood when speaking Italian and that's because of the subtitles. The pale makeup and bloodshot eyes give the English actor a zombie look and on more than one occasion the audience feels like it's stepped into a horror film. 
 
Capone is also paranoid and delusional.  We watch as rolls into fits of rage claiming that he's being watched.  His mansion is wire-tapped and yes the feds are watching, especially Agent Crawford (Jack Lowden) who listens in around the clock hoping to learn the whereabouts of a reported $10 million in cash that Capone stashed away before going to the slammer. The hidden loot is mentioned throughout the film, but the plot goes nowhere.  29-year old Lowden, with his boyish looks, seems miscast as Capone’s adversary. Although at this juncture, Capone is only a threat to his underwear which gets soiled more than once and let's just say it gets graphic. 
 
The wonderful Linda Cardellini as Capone’s wife Mae unfortunately doesn’t have much to do in the film.  She gets agitated at her husband often, and at his henchman when they call him Al instead of his nickname "Fonse" which is short for Alphonse.  Apparently Al brings back memories of his days as a crime boss so the name has been banned by Mae. 
 
The cast also includes Kyle MacLachlan as Doctor Karlock who brings Capone fresh diapers and offers advice to Mae that includes keeping family around to help take care of her deteriorating husband. The doc is also aware of the hidden loot and tries to get Capone to divulge its whereabouts when Mae's not around. Capone's brother Ralphie (Al Sapienza) is also around and so is former enforcer Gino (Gino Cafarelli) who gets bloody and violent in a flashback scene. The story also hints at an illegitimate son named Tony (Mason Guccione) who continuously calls and then hangs up.  There's not much background on Tony and so the subplot fizzles out. 
 
I should also mention Matt Dillon’s appearance as a gangster figure from Capone’s past who may or may not be a figment of his imagination. Dillon looks great as if he hasn't aged over the years.  
 
When working with such a fascinating figure as Al Capone, the possibilities are limitless for a first-rate film. From his beginnings in New York with small-time racketeers, to his move to Chicago where he became an enforcer and then later the city’s top crime boss which led to the 1929 Saint Valentine's Day Massacre. However, Trank is focused on late stage Capone where the former gangster has been reduced to a fart machine who utters “uh-oh” each time he lets one loose.  
 
Trank burst onto the scene with 2012’s entertaining sci-fi thriller “Chronicle” but followed that up with the disastrous re-imaging of Marvel’s “Fantastic Four” in 2015. It’s been five years and now the writer-director resurfaces with this bizarre biopic that features at least one action scene as Capone shoots up everything in sight with a gold Tommy Gun but then you notice he's also walking around in a diaper that seems to be carrying a full load.  Maybe that's his way of saying I made a poopy, now someone please change me. 
 
(1 star)
 
Available now PVOD on various outlets.

Joe Friar is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society.  He co-founded the Victoria Film Society and reviews films for Hit Radio 104.7 and the Victoria Advocate.

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Joe Friar is a member of the Critics Choice Association (Los Angeles) and the Houston Film Critics Society. A lifelong fan of cinema, he co-founded the Victoria Film Society, Frels Fright Fest, and is a Rotten Tomatoes approved critic.

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