A ruthless prohibition era gangster meets a miserable and incontinent end. Capone, formerly titled Fonzo, is not a Tommy Gun blazing biopic of the infamous criminal. The cigar chomping head of the Chicago Outfit is portrayed in the bleak final year of his life. Surrounded by his caring family and loyal soldiers, Al Capone breaks down from neurosyphilis. His dementia leading to fever dream hallucinations of a murderous past. Tom Hardy is remarkable in a stomach churning performance. He is the only high point in a painfully slow, meandering film.
Capone takes place at his mansion in Palm Island, Florida. Fonz (Tom Hardy) has been released for health concerns after a decade in prison for tax evasion. His stalwart wife, Mae (Linda Cardellini), and son (Noel Fisher) rally their family around the ailing patriarch. The FBI still watches closely. They hope to find the truth behind Capone’s rumored secret fortune. He supposedly hid ten million dollars.
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As the FBI and their unscrupulous doctor (Kyle MacLachlan) search for answers, Capone’s debilitation progresses rapidly. He thinks the money exists, but cannot remember its location. The line between fantasy and reality blurs. Capone relives his darkest actions and failures. He is haunted by brutality. An exasperated Mae reaches her breaking point. The family can no longer afford their gilded cage. The last vestiges of Capone’s criminal empire must be sold. The respected and feared mafia boss becomes an empty shell of his former self.
Al Capone is a terminally ill man struggling to control his physical and mental faculties. The criminal mastermind behind The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre soils himself repeatedly. A bedroom scene will have you recoiling in disgust. Writer/director Josh Trank (Chronicle, Fantastic Four) succeeds in humanizing an iconic persona. The problem is that every other part of the narrative feels inconsequential. I struggled to name the supporting characters while watching the film. Subplots regarding the money and his various relationships are poorly developed. They don’t get the focus of Capone’s body fluids.
Tom Hardy is not afraid to get dirty. His turn as Al Capone is both revolting and sublime. The actor sweats, wheezes, and defecates throughout the film. His raspy voice is barely audible as the syphilis takes its toll. Hardy’s acting is a strong pillar, but not enough to overcome Capone’s plodding pace. Linda Cardellini needed more screen time. Mae is a compelling character, but is purely reactionary. She’s never explored further than a stalwart wife who picks up the pieces. There are key moments when the film could have delved further into their relationship.
Capone has merit as a singular character study, but is incredibly dull in stretches. Josh Trank’s script lacks sizzle. His fixation on Al Capone’s physical decline didn’t hold my interest beyond the first act. Tom Hardy is daring and versatile in a boring film. Capone is a production of Bron Studios, Addictive Pictures, and Lawrence Bender. It is available now digitally from Redbox Entertainment and Vertical Entertainment.
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