'Capone' Review—A Bloated Nightmare

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'Capone' Review—A Bloated Nightmare

Tom Hardy shits himself in this movie. Twice. And that's all you need to know.

Capone is not your average gangster biopic. Josh Trank, the man behind films such as Chronicle and the critically maligned FANT4STIC, writes, directs, and edits this biographical drama based on the life of the notorious gangster Al Capone.

While a typical gangster movie depicts the gangster at the height of his or her power in a series of corrupt dealings and crazy shoot-em-ups, this movie skips ahead to the final ten minutes of a typical gangster movie. This film follows Capone's life after his years of crime and his 11-year prison sentence in his last year of life as he smokes cigars, faces dementia and is haunted by his past, stretching 10 minutes into 104.

If I were to summarize my thoughts on this movie, I believe the most effective way would be to restate the premise: this movie skips past the most exciting part of a gangster's life to depict the most uneventful part of a gangster's life.

There is a group of people that film snobs tend to make fun of, and that is people who think a movie needs action to be entertaining; if a film is dialogue-heavy, it immediately becomes a "boring" movie. I can't entirely agree with these people. I believe the most crucial element to a film is its story, but the fact that the Wikipedia summary for this film consists of four short paragraphs, that should tell you what you need to know.

To make a long story short, Trank made a short story long. He took the brief, simple story of an aging gangster with his mind rotting from neurosyphilis and stretched it into a feature. While the concept is admirable, there isn't a lot of potential in a movie about a man who spends most of the film sitting in chairs and mumbling.

Hardy's performance is ultimately the best thing about this film. He is barely recognizable under his metric ton of prosthetics, and his voice and accent take a minute to get used to but are quite convincing. His performance is reminiscent of Marlon Brando in The Godfather, the film this movie seemed to aspire to be.

As Capone is depicted as a rotting corpse of a man, this film is a rotting corpse of a movie, and we become a rotting corpse of an audience due to the film's lack of story. This film has less of a plot and more of a series of scenes strung together through a paper-thin connective tissue, with many scenes not feeling as if they lead to the next.

So little happens in this film that one could take the scenes in this film and scramble them out of order to create a completely nonlinear potpourri of a movie, and it would have no bearing on the audience's ability to understand the film.

The audience has little to no reason to care about Capone as a character, as this movie alienates those unfamiliar with his life as a gangster with a film that ultimately consists of a man who sits around, talks to people, and has a few nightmares. And when a protagonist has so little momentum, the story should compensate, but it fails to.

Characterization is nonexistent in this film. Everyone in this movie exists for one purpose only—to have a conversation or two with Capone. We know nothing about these people or their past relationship with Capone. As a result, the audience is left not caring about the story, the protagonist, or the supporting characters.

It's unfortunate how little Trank had to offer with this unique premise. The film isn't as much a Scorsese-esque crime film as it is a bland movie with about as much life and energy as the deteriorating Capone. A movie about a man at the end of his rope after years of crime could be fascinating, but there is little emotional weight.

Had the characters been given any nuance or if the hallucinations Capone has had any meat to them, this film could have been mildly enjoyable. However, this movie is a bloated nightmare filled with good performances and lacking in everything else.

On the freeway of crime films, this is one of the slower-moving vehicles in desperate need of a tune-up and a polish.

Grade: ★★☆☆☆ [4/10, D+]

movie review
Jonathan Sim
Jonathan Sim
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Jonathan Sim

Film critic. Lover of Pixar, Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Back to the Future, and Lord of the Rings.

See all posts by Jonathan Sim