It has been nearly five years since director Josh Trank's example of how not to make a movie, Fantastic Four, retched onto cinema screens everywhere. Now, he is back, and this time he has brought Tom Hardy with him, for the gangster biopic Capone. So, has Trank redeemed himself? Does Hardy's talent make-up for Trank's failings? Or has Trank simply dragged Hardy, kicking and screaming, into another bad movie? The reviews are in, and it sounds like a bit of all three.
Capone, previously known as Fonzo, stars Tom Hardy as the eponymous character, notorious gangster Al Capone, who has finished his 11-year prison sentence and is spending his final year in Florida suffering from hepatitis and dementia. Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Capone was the most infamous and feared gangster of American lore.
At the age of 47, following nearly a decade of imprisonment, dementia rots Alfonse's mind and his past becomes present. Harrowing memories of his violent and brutal origins melt into his waking life. As he spends his final year surrounded by family with the FBI lying in wait, this ailing patriarch struggles to place the memory of the location of millions of dollars he hid away on his property.
Cinemablend's Sean O'Connell commended Tom Hardy for his performance and praised Josh Trank for his depiction of the nightmarish last days of this gangster icon. With that being said, he also noted that by avoiding the usual gangster biopic formula, the movie makes for an often uncomfortable watch. Capone does not sound like it will be what audiences expect, but is that really a bad thing?
"[T]he polar opposite of a conventional gangster picture, featuring an engrossing tour-de-force performance from Tom Hardy in the lead role."
In fact, Brian Truitt from USA Today praised Capone for taking a different path in telling this particular gangster tale, highlighting both Josh Trank and Tom Hardy as the key ingredients that make the movie work.
"The film paves a path that crime dramas often don't tread, imagining what happens after a larger-than-life criminal's reign of terror, stripping down an icon of power and mental capacity, and leaving a feral wreck in his place."
Not everyone enjoyed Capone though, with Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Greenblatt stating that the performance is a "trap" for Tom Hardy, allowing him to "ramble and roar outrageously across the screen" which results in the character feeling too repulsive and distant.
"[Trank] invests so much in atmosphere and in chronicling Capone's decline that the storyline - riddled with flashbacks and half-hallucinations - becomes a sort of surreal afterthought, a strange patchwork of bathos and brutality."
This was echoed by Screenrant's Chris Agar, who also felt that Capone fails to generate sympathy for the title character.
"Capone has lofty ambitions of being the next great crime drama, but falls short of finding a compelling story about its subject's final days."
Richard Roeper from The Chicago Sun-Times was equally unimpressed with Capone, and while he did acknowledge that Hardy's performance is the dominating element of the movie, he too found the story to be lacking, with the overall experience ending up feeling rather repellent.
"Capone is a noxious film about a noxious man - a gruesome and grotesque viewing experience that tells us nothing new about Capone while rubbing our noses in one detestable scene after another."
On a more positive note, Slashfilm's Chris Evangelista found the movie quite refreshing, with Hardy's performance more than enough to keep viewers invested, despite the flawed surroundings.
"Capone works in spite of these road bumps, mainly because it's easy to get wrapped-up in Hardy's ghoulish performance, and the gothic horror of it all."
Capone is now available on video-on-demand and comes from Vertical Entertainment.