On paper, Capone is extremely enticing. Who wouldn’t want to see Academy Award nominee Tom Hardy as the infamous Al Capone during the last year of his life, haunted by his actions as he succumbs to dementia? Directed by the man who brought the world Chronicle and was “wronged by the studio” for his Fantastic Four cut? Josh Trank is given complete freedom and final cut, Tom Hardy brought his all-in acting style, and a moderate budget…and we get something to rival Gotti as the worst narrative surrounding a famous mobster.
Linda Cardellini is exceptional in her role as Capone’s long-suffering wife Mae, giving her the same “Italian wife” role she brought to Green Book thankfully with substantially more screen time. Most of the supporting roles are equally competent, with each high profile name invested beyond just cashing a check. However, the film lives and dies on Tom Hardy. Unfortunately, despite his impressive turns in other gangster narratives, he falls flat. Hardy spends most of Capone in a daze, wandering from expositional set-piece to confusing plot point, while occasionally deciding to say a few words in a voice so unintelligible that this reviewer had to seriously consider if, perhaps Tom Hardy is masking a lack of direction with the choice to lean aggressively into caricature.
The plot around him is equally as half-hearted: the film flirts with the idea of Capone having ten million dollars hidden on his estate early on, as well as the secrets of his past coming to haunt him in his addled state. These plot points are tossed out almost randomly, with the majority of the action not coming until the final act of the film. The money subplot is resolved at literally the last moment. I will say, the only truly enjoyable moment of the film hinges on Capone’s mental health: a sequence where Al wanders into a sequence cut right out of a gangster epic as reality warps around both his notorious past and his current delusions. It’s a flashy and captivating sequence, and truly shows that at one time Josh Trank could direct a scene. Unfortunately, the rest of the runtime is occupied with Capone sitting slack-jawed, cigar-shaped object in his mouth, as the people around him just watch someone they love suffer. The only thing that keeps the plot moving is the decay of Capone’s face. If you want to watch a bad gangster movie starring Tom Hardy, save your money and stream Legend.
Written by Cassie Jo Ochoa