Vertical Entertainment / Bron Studios / Addictive Pictures / Lawrence Bender Productions / Band Apart
There are some films that defy convention. Others, defy conception altogether. Capone, written, directed, and edited by Josh Trank (Chronicle) is the epitome of the “who asked for this?” tweet. Trank has found a way to make a movie with less cohesion than F4ntastic. Capone, a film about the infamous prohibition-era gangster in the twilight of his life could not be less interesting. In the entirety of media involving Al Capone, he has always been fascinating. Even Geraldo’s documentary from the 80s, Capone’s Vault, was more riveting than this. Trank’s Capone is a great reminder of what happens when the sum of the parts does nothing to improve the whole.
The Parts, The Sum
Capone fails despite having what it needs to be at the very least tolerable. Tom Hardy’s performance isn’t his best. As the titular Al “Scarface” Capone, Hardy’s performance is equal parts Bane and Vito Corleone. But less intelligible. Not surprising, since no known audio of Al Capone exists. The acting in Capone is just fine with Linda Cardellini’s Mae and Matt Dillon’s Johnny as the standouts. Along with the production design, costuming, fantastic make-up, and all the other parts that make a film manifest. Capone lives and dies solely on the decisions of the director. To clarify, Josh Trank is billed as the writer, editor, and director of the movie. Each and every one of the finer details end up being signed off by Trank, and it shows. Even at just under two hours, Capone is too long and meanders beyond all reasoning.
Capone attempts to follow Al Capone’s last year of life as he spirals into dementia in his Florida mansion. The red flags go up as you realize this ‘straight to on-demand’ feature-length film is categorized as a ‘thriller.’ About twenty minutes into the movie these creepy quasi-jump scares and lingering horror elements begin and never really land. Perhaps the most egregious offense is that Trank chose Al Capone’s neurosyphilis (yes, it’s real AND he did have it) as the plot device to turn what could have been a mildly interesting biopic into a D-list Blockbuster video movie in the thriller section. The movie’s use of Capone’s syphilis-induced incontinence was ham-fisted and borderline insensitive. There was no reason imaginable for the two scenes where Hardy’s Capone craps himself. The first of which was a continuity nightmare and a second that was unintentionally cringy.
The whole vibe of Capone felt like the product of a strange elevator pitch where Boardwalk Empire interior b-roll meets Shutter Island. It goes for Hitchcock and comes up so short. Just like that clunky amalgamation of references it made very, very little sense as a film. I’m at a bit of a loss here, I don’t understand how or why Josh Trank keeps getting chances to spend large sums of money to make subpar movies of little to no interest. There’s no sharp or acerbic bit to this critique, I am legitimately stunned at how bad this movie is.