We Found It On Streaming: CAPONE (2020)

Capone Tom Hardy
Image via Redbox Entertainment

You know the film. It’s a film you have never heard of. The cast might be composed of actors you know and love or complete unknowns. A documentary that sounds interesting about a topic you might like. You stumble across it on streaming and wonder if it will be worth two hours of your time. This series will be devoted to reviewing films like these, the strange items that pop up when you are looking for a flick on the streaming service of your choice. This is “We Found It On Streaming

Capone movie poster
Image via Redbox Entertainment

FILM: Capone

Release Date: May 12, 2020

Run Time: 104 Minutes.

Streaming Service(s): Hulu

Rating: Rated R for strong/bloody violence, pervasive language and some sexuality

Josh Trank was once a Hollywood wunderkind. His directorial debut, Chronicle, came from out of nowhere and hit number one at the box office. That success has studios throwing offers at Trank left and right, including a chance of making a Star Wars film at Lucasfilm. The world was his oyster.

Then Fantastic Four happened.

That film, which Trank co-wrote and directed, was one of the worst comic book films of all time, a box office bomb, and knocked Trank down as fast as Chronicle built him up. His Star Wars film went away, and he was no longer Hollywood’s next big thing.

Trank blamed to poor quality on studio interference, that there was a good version of the film, I.E. the one he made, that no one would see. Would Trank’s FF be better if he was left to his own devices? We finally have an answer to that. And the answer is. probably not.

Capone thanksgiving Tom Hardy
Image via Redbox Entertainment

Capone, which Trank wrote, directed and edited, picks up at the start of the last year of the legendary gangster’s life. He is living in his Palm Island, Florida estate with his wife Mae. The syphilis he has been fighting since he was 15 has started getting the upper hand. He is starting to develop dementia and has begun to hallucinate about people he killed coming back to visit him one last time before he dies. He is under the watchful eye of the Feds, who believe he might be faking his illness. They are looking for a rumored $10 million Capone allegedly stashed in a secret location. Capone wants to know where it is too, but unfortunately his dementia is all too real, and he can’t remember where he hid the money.

The biggest fault with the film is Trank’s lack of focus in delivering his narrative. He spends most of the movie trying to mess with the audience’s mind, presenting scene after scene where we are not sure what Capone is seeing is real or not. This is to be expected, considering the subject matter. But these types of scenes work best when there is some sort of logic to them.  Basic stuff, like if someone is a figment of a person’s imagination, don’t show him interacting with other characters. Trank doesn’t follow these rules, and that is dirty pool. Yeah, it’s fun to trick the viewers, but do it fairly.

Then he moves on to full-blown, The Shining style hallucinations. These too have very little logic to them either. They are just big, showy set pieces, for the most part vague as to what specific horrors they are showing from Capone’s past.

This kind of shenanigans makes it hard to get into the film. He throws in a lot of scenes and hallucinations that “mean something™” or are supposed to, but since Trank is not a reliable narrator, we can’t pick up on these until way after we are supposed to. It is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Capone Mae Linda Cardellini
Image via Redbox Entertainment

This means that often the film descends into “so bad its good” territory. Like when, about halfway through the movie, the $10 million becomes massively important in the film. It is a plot thread before and after, but during this time, in a quick succession of scenes, his son asks about the money, his brother asks about the money, his doctor asks about the money and the Feds ask about the money. For about 5 minutes, the missing cash becomes a major plot point. Then it fades into the background, and nobody other than Capone references it again.

Or the scatological elements of the film. If you have always wanted to see the lead character of the film vomit, piss his pants and shit the bed–all in the first 15 minutes–then, brother, this film is for you.  It is made out to be a major symptom of his disease, but his incontinence only makes one more appearance where it is played for laughs. And don’t get me started on when the doctor convinces Capone’s family to replace his ever-present cigar with a raw carrot, a plot point that did not happen in real life.

If we now must talk about the acting and that means we have to talk about Tom Hardy. Sigh.

Capone Tom Hardy carrot
Image via Redbox Entertainment

Tom Hardy is quickly becoming the Nicolas Cage of his generation, and I’m not sure I mean that as a complement. He is less concerned with delivering a believable character, than collecting a bunch of tics and affectations in place of a character. He gives Capone a throaty, raspy warble that I have never heard come out of any human being in my entire life. I don’t believe there have been any recordings of Capone’s voice, but I find it hard to believe he sounded like this.

Hardy seems to be bucking for an Oscar here (the film was originally intended for a theatrical release before COVID-19 sent it to streaming). While he is able to speak, Hardy chews up as much scenery as possible. As Capone’s disease takes his voice away from him, Hardy is constricted to mugging for the camera and emitting guttural growls (which, combined with his shambling gait and a makeup job that gave him bloodshot eyes and a pale face covered with scabs, make you momentarily think you stumbled into a Zombie Al Capone movie. I might have preferred watching that one instead.) Hardy’s Capone is more caricature than character.

Capone Matt Dillon
Image via Redbox Entertainment

The rest of the cast is able. Any cast that features Matt Dillon, Linda Cardellini, and Kyle McLachlan would have to be. But all they are mostly given to do is deliver exposition. There isn’t any deep delving into motivations or points of view here.

The final days of Al Capone would make a good film. It’s just that Josh Trank wasn’t up to the task. Avoid this film, unless you want to mercilessly mock it.

Have you found a film on streaming that you’d like us to look at? Leave it in the comments and it might appear in a future installment of this feature. 

Avatar für Bill Gatevackes
About Bill Gatevackes 2040 Articles
William is cursed with the shared love of comic books and of films. Luckily, this is a great time for him to be alive. His writing has been featured on Broken Frontier.com, PopMatters.com and in Comics Foundry magazine.
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