'Capone' is a Zany and Dreamy Gangster Comedy

Published on May 12, 2020

Capone is not a conventional biopic. Writer, director, and editor Josh Trank‘s Al Capone movie is every bit as grandiose as Tom Hardy‘s go-for-broke performance, which is part Daffy Duck, part Nick Nolte. Together, Trank and Hardy strip Capone of his legends and present a man who went from the top of the world to the bottom. Surprisingly, the downfall is a lot funnier than expected. With Capone‘s dreamlike narrative, it’s far more enjoyable and hammy than the run-of-the-mill stuffy and repressed biopic.

Tom Hardy IS Al Capone

Hardy growls his way through Capone. He plays the infamous gangster in the later years of his life after syphilis has destroyed his body and mind. He’s not the man he once was, and he can barely even remember that man. Somewhere in Capone’s mind is the idea he buried $10 million in cash and doesn’t know where it is, but the plot is of little importance in this movie. It is all atmosphere, and it’s all Tom Hardy. A hunt for $10 million dollars is maybe the least compelling part of this story.

Not the Average Biopic

It’s such an inherently fascinating part of Capone’s history Trank’s movie covers. It’s far more compelling than showing the beginning, middle, and end of a character’s life. Unlike most biopics in existence, there’s nothing predictable about Capone.

Considering Capone’s state of mind in the movie, Trank gets to cut ties to reality and go to Al Capone dreamland. It’s an ugly place with some genuinely effective bursts of violence to contrast the broad comedy. Watching Capone stumble through his Florida home and relive the past, it’s more like The Shining than any other gangster movie. There are times where Tom Hardy looks very Jack Torrance in his Florida home, unaware of what’s real and not.

The dreamlike sequences are the movie’s most fully-realized moments, especially a scene involving Matt Dillon, his eyes, and a blade. These fantastical sequences drip over into the rest of the movie, making us question, how much of this is real? It’s a part of the movie’s fun and attention-grabbing quality. Capone is certainly not a dry or predictable biopic.

The Grand Finale (Spoiler)

Trank, to a degree, is taking the piss out of the gangster movie. The final shootout in Capone is ridiculous. It’s like Scarface’s but without all the explosions but just a man in his diaper with a Tommy gun. It’s goofy and surreal, like the rest of the movie.

There’s something to be said for a gangster movie that doesn’t always take itself or its characters too seriously. There’s no glamorization or romanticism in Capone, it’s the exact opposite. By going for laughs instead of drama, Trank reduces Capone and other mobsters to man-children with no more than big guns in their hands.

Capone is a Comedy

Capone does have dramatic ambitions, but for the most part, they fall short. There are a handful of scenes that should probably feel more emotional than they are in execution, especially scenes involving Capone and his wife, played by Linda Cardellini. The movie is a bit on the cold side for that reason, but as a gangster comedy, Capone is pretty damn entertaining.

The movie is like Johnny Dangerously crossed with The Shining. There’s wonderful a scene in which Capone defecates in his pants, as comedian Neal Brennan sits next to him and director Josh Trank sits across him. If anybody says this movie isn’t a comedy, they must’ve missed that scene and loads of others. Capone almost always intentionally gets laughs. There is entertainment value, especially in Hardy’s big, not nuanced, but big performance.

The Best and Worst of Josh Trank

Trank, of course, is coming off the debacle of Fantastic Four. The comic book movie was a commercial and mostly creative disaster. Trank was built up as the next big thing but crashed and burned with his sophomore effort. Whatever pain or lessons he gained from that experience clearly bled into Capone, which is far more focused and singular than Fantastic Four. Good and bad, it’s one director’s vision.

Trank has made more of a name for himself as a person than as a filmmaker. Even after Capone, he’s still more compelling as a person than a director. At least with his gangster comedy, though, Trank got to stay true to his instincts and, serious flaws and all, make an entertaining gangster pic with a hilarious Tom Hardy performance.

We hope you enjoy these products! But keep in mind, Grit Daily might take small cut of the profit on the items recommended here—but that doesn’t mean we don’t believe in them. We only recommend products that we would buy or use ourselves, so don’t be wary of our suggestions.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

Read more

More GD News