Tom Hardy mutters and splutters his way through Capone (2020), an ordeal of a film that incorporates an overly complicated plot only to cover up its obvious flaws.
Viewers – like me – who cheered up for Tom Hardy tackling Al Capone can now abandon all hope. According to Josh Trank’s understanding of a film about the most notorious gangster in the 1930s in America there is nothing better than an English actor struggling with Italian while wearing heavy make-up. And yeah – it’s awful.
Capone (2020) takes on the challenge of portraying the last year of its protagonist’s life. Downtrodden and ravished with syphilis, Fonce – called that way to remove the memories of being Al – barely connects with reality. Guilt eats the man, and before he loses grip entirely, Capone attempts to find the millions he hid somewhere.
Josh Trank has no control over the story, direction and pacing of Capone (2020)
Dementia, as it is tackled in Capone (2020), worked well in Remember (2015) – a drama about a concentration camp prisoner who searches for his oppressor despite suffering from memory loss. For director Josh Trank, Capone’s deteriorating health creates an opportunity to confuse the audience with visions of the past displayed as enigmatic and mostly incoherent flashbacks. Unfortunately, none of these scenes really tie together, leaving the plot incredibly dull and tepid.
And while I do see what director Josh Trank aimed for, Capone (2020) misses its shot entirely. Without the ‘rise’ part in this rise-and-fall pattern, Al Capone never stirs any emotions, therefore his issues fail to compel us in the slightest. That’s also due to Tom Hardy’s catastrophically bad role, which I’ll discuss later on.
The story focuses on Hardy, however Trank throws in plenty of characters to ‘turn up the heat’, a decision not backed up by the script. Roles of Matt Dillion and Linda Cardellini end up frustratingly flat, because of how ill-fitted these characters are. But the most preposterous part introduces a zealous FBI agent who wants to put an end to Capone. The final clash of him and Capone ends abruptly by Tom Hardy’s grimace and fart noises – just another symbol of how miserable the once-great gangster was.
If it was Taika Waititi behind the camera, Capone (2020) might have actually paved its way through (with just enough sarcasm). Yet when helmed by Josh Trank, this scene alone will make you say sorry for criticizing Adam Sandler’s comedies.
Tom Hardy drowns in a terribly muddled pot
Josh Trank’s house of cards falls, but what about Tom Hardy and his leading performance?
First of all, Hardy is barely recognizable as a Hugh Heffner-type but with numerous surgeries gone wrong, which also indicates the make-up department was given way too much freedom. You cannot tell whether Hardy looks weary, lacking sleep or is simply 70-years old.
The actor himself is probably the biggest disappointment of the movie though. As Al Capone, Tom Hardy surpasses John Travolta’s over-the-top performance in Gotti (2018). Most of the time, he is outrageously cringe-worthy. Lines said by Capone are mumbled, with less grunting and more hoarseness in his voice in comparison with actor’s other performances.
But the real problem is that this version of Al Capone remains incomprehensible as to the effect it’s supposed to have on the audience. Hardy is nowhere near menacing, nor is he pitiful or deserving our empathy. Also lacking cunning, this is the kind of hero you want to shove deep in the depths of the so-bad-it’s-good, because watching an actor as talented as Tom Hardy play that bad is something hard to forget.
So the best that could have happened to everyone involved in Capone (2020) was the pandemic that halted its cinematic distribution which would: A) inadvertently plunge Josh Trank’s career even more than Fantastic Four (2015) and B) mark the beginning of Tom Hardy’s decline (which hopefully won’t come to realization, however he needs a better selection of roles ASAP).
Hate Grade: 9/10
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Josh Trank
Starring: Tom Hardy, Matt Dillon, Lisa Cardelini
Cinematographer: Peter Deming