Capone is the first film of Josh Trank’s that Trank has been proud of. There was no studio interference and there wasn’t any reshoots on the film by a different director. Capone may have originally been called Fonzo, but it is otherwise Trank’s original vision.
It’s also his first film outside of the realm of superheroes with the found-footage 2012 film Chronicle making Trank an instant success that all crumbled with whatever his 2015 Fantastic Four reboot turned out to be.
Trank’s first film in five years may be a passion project that Trank approves of, but Capone will hardly sit well with the average movie watcher, passionate film critics, or anyone actively seeking out an entertaining way to spend two hours.
Capone picks up during the last year of Al Capone’s life. He spent a decade in prison due to tax evasion and is released at the age of 40. He lives with his family in Palm Island, Florida as a retiree in a mansion he can no longer afford.
Now at 48, Fonse is crippled with dementia as his neurosyphilis, which he contracted at the age of 15, is also starting to take its toll. His family never says his name as he’s referred to as, “Fonzo,” or “Fonse,” in his home since the feds are still monitoring his every move.
Fonse hid $10 million, but his deteriorating mental and physical health has kept him from remembering where he put it. The feds believe he’s exaggerating his symptoms and intend to find the money he set aside before his imprisonment.
Labeled as a biographical film, Capone mostly allows the audience to experience what it’s like to lose your mind. Fonse gets lost in what is currently reality, what is actually his past, and what is all just made up in his head.
He forgets who his wife and friends are and is paranoid about everyone and everything. The film crawls through its 103-minute duration as a good majority of the film is spent watching Tom Hardy grunt, stare into the camera, drool, barf, and crap his pants on more than one occasion.
Tom Hardy portrays this sickly and dangerous grenade-with-its-pin-removed, larger than life character. Hardy’s bloodshot eyes, that always seem to be on the verge of filling the swamp in his backyard with an unreasonable amount of tears, give the audience a glimpse into a broken man.
He spends the film chain smoking cigars (or biting carrots) and chasing a boy with a gold balloon. You almost sympathize with Fonse based on how pathetic he’s become and how he suddenly feels guilty of the things he did as one of the most prominent and memorable gangsters ever.
You’re drawn to Hardy’s performance regardless of whether he’s stumbling around to urinate properly or scribbling a drawing of a platypus after a stroke, but his performance is the most mesmerizing when Fonse is fully on the edge of losing it entirely; like when an alligator steals the fish he was trying to catch or when he finds his gold tommy gun while wearing nothing but a silk pajama shirt, a black and white striped open bathrobe, and an unflattering diaper.
Linda Cardellini is Mae, Fonse’s wife. In gangster or mafia films like this you’re accustomed to seeing female characters either get on your last nerve or just cave in to whatever insane demand their gangster husband desires. Mae isn’t like that though; she doesn’t put up with any of Fonse’s BS. She attempts to keep him in line and on a somewhat sane path whenever his brain is pushing him off the rails.
There’s a scene in the second half of the film between Hardy and Cardellini where Fonse is in bed and Mae is knelt by his side crying over what her husband has become. The speech Fonse gives about Mae being an angel with broken wings and wanting to fix them is so touching that he basically ruins in the next breath since he reveals he no longer remembers her or anyone else walking around his house. They’re all just strangers with guns.
Matt Dillon’s role as Johnny is a small one, but also one of the most memorable of the film. The connection he has with Fonse factors into how the Fonse character feels currently. Johnny and Fonse have this relationship with one another where they can talk about anything since they’ve been through so much together.
Capone seems to imply that Johnny is what Fonse thought about most when being locked away. It could have been the thing that pushed his sanity past the point of no return; that and whether his forgotten son Tony from another relationship actually exists or not.
The Johnny character has this Johnny Depp from Once Upon a Time in Mexico kind of aura about him. The character seems to be around in an effort to tie up a loose end for Fonse. The past is the past and Fonse needs to learn to focus on the present.
Capone has such a negative online reputation and it’s not the type of film that should be actively recommended, but it’s also not as bad as some reviews are making it out to be. It’s a worthy one-time watch.
Fonse may have been released from prison, but he spends the rest of his life trapped in the vessel he’s lived in for so long; out of one imprisonment and into another. It’s a gradual descent into one-man’s dementia that could be viewed as boring to some.
Tom Hardy delivers this destructive wrecking ball of a performance. He’s a man who is lost within himself that essentially destroys everything he has left because of his health. Capone is a sad, disorienting, and challenging watch that won’t be for everyone. But it’s also this seamless barrage of ambiguity that leaves so many aspects of the film open to interpretation.
Josh Trank seems like a filmmaker that doesn’t want to make a conventional film. He wants the audience to think and be miserable while admiring the talent that goes into the pieces of the puzzle that fit into the big picture in ways you may not be expecting. That is the type of film Capone is; Trank’s ambitious and troublesome vision brought to life exactly how he sees it.
Capone is now available to rent/stream/own on most streaming and VOD services.
- Tom Hardy
- Matt Dillon
- Its raw glimpse of madness.
- Feels uneventful
- Thought provoking yet confusing at times.