Director Josh Trank shot out of the gate with his first feature film, the genre bending, found footage superhero movie Chronicle. The film was a success and he caught the eye of big studios and suddenly he was a sought after commodity. He had multiple projects in the works but ultimately decided on Fantastic Four. Stories from production came out about a young, head strong director with uncompromising vision on set. Problems with the studio were destined to happen, and ultimately lead to Trank losing control of most of his directorial duties and final cut. The movie came out and bombed and was reviled by critics. He has not directed a film since, until Capone.
Capone focuses on the final year of Alphonse Capone’s life. The infamous gangster is released from prison after nearly ten years and into the care of his wife (Linda Cardellini) due of his failing health. Showing signs of neurosyphilis, the deteriorating brain of Al Capone becomes a jumbled mess of reality and the ghosts of his violent past. During some of his more lucid moments, somewhere between being seen by the family doctor (Kyle Maclachlan) and daydreaming in his favorite chair, he remembers that he has ten million dollars, if only he can remember where he put it. But don’t let that mcguffin fool you, there isn’t much of a story to be found.
Tom Hardy channels his inner Marlon Brando for the role, giving everything he has to offer as an actor. There is no question of his commitment, if only he had more to work with, often his conversations are reduced to a series of grunts and various other onomatopoeia. Whether he is wondering the halls of his palatial estate confused and agitated or sitting in his chair confused and agitated, he is one of the only shining lights to be found. It can be frustrating watching nothing happen or move any semblance of a narrative along. We can only watch Hardy stumble around for so long before losing interest.
His dutiful wife is played by the lovely Linda Cardellini, unfortunately she is sorely underused and does not get much time to spar with Hardy’s Capone, but is merely reduced to someone to be there when he falls or defecates in bed. The rest of the cast rounded out by Kyle Maclachlan, Matt Dillon, and Noel Fisher are mostly just there to fill chairs in the house, although Maclachlan is fun to see as the conniving doctor.
The films very unreliable narrator in Capone and the lack of a cohesive narrative makes it nearly impossible to distinguish reality and the world he see’s in his head. The best scenes of the film, including one with a very angry diaper clad Capone are met with such disappointing reveals that any enjoyment is fleeting.
There will no doubt be people who very much enjoy this film, I understand that it will be polarizing. Trank is the writer, director, and editor. Everything creative that was taken away from him with his previous film is not surrendered here. There is no doubt that he had the final say on what would be the ultimate cut of this film. I’m left wondering if that was the best choice.
1.5 out of 5