Written and directed by Josh Trank, the 47-year-old Al Capone (Tom Hardy), after 10 years in prison, starts suffering from dementia and comes to be haunted by his violent past. Also starring: Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon, Al Sapienza, Kathrine Narducci, Noel Fisher, Gino Cafarelli, Mason Guccione, Jack Lowden and Kyle MacLachlan.
There’s one glaring problem with the concept of this film, why should anyone care? A career criminal with rapidly declining health, who can’t quite separate memory from reality and yet, he’s not inherently remorseful or the slightest bit sympathetic. It feels as though there was no legitimate reason to make this film, to spend over twenty million dollars, trying to make an audience feel bad for a terrible person because they’re in a vulnerable state. There’s likely unlimited stories out there of inspirational people or exceptional events and undoubtedly every one of them would be a better use of a studio’s budget than this.
The closest attempt at a redeeming feature is its cast of dependable actors. Hardy has gotten the rough and tough, violent, man of few words type criminal down to a tee after years of practice but arguably there’s not a lot for him to do here. The majority of the performance requires grunts and quizzical looks, so while Hardy technically does a brilliant job with it, it’s not a particularly enjoyable portrayal to watch. The constantly underrated Cardellini is a great addition, her role as Mae is perhaps one of the only more interesting characters and she gets to flex a few more acting muscles. MacLachlan, Lowden, Dillon and Fisher all round out the cast nicely, they each have something different to bring, none of the roles are particularly new but they tick the boxes.
Now onto the film’s second most prominent issue, indulgence. Usually if a film is heavily relying upon flashbacks, hallucinations and a general bending of reality, those scenes won’t last too long but this film seems to be intent on trying to also make the audience confused about what’s reality. The idea of that in itself is admirable but the way that Trank attempts to pull it off more simply shows a lack of conviction in moving forward. It’s too overly focused on these long-extended memories and fictions, so much so that if you took them out you’d have a bare bones of a story left. Neither of them are pushing the other toward a goal, it’s a meandering, confused path that has no real endgame.
Capone is frankly a sincere waste of talent, money and time. There was absolutely no need to tell this story and it’s too obvious to ignore while watching it. It’s neither a satisfying nor enjoyable viewing experience, it tries to emanate its lead’s incoherence and confusion, and it succeeds too well. There’s sadly just no good reason to make this film and it’s a shame to think of underappreciated filmmakers out there who could have done something great with even a fraction of this budget.