Capone: An otherwise monotonous biopic lifted by Tom Hardy’s comically over exaggerated performance


Hardy portraying famous gangster Al Capone. Photo courtesy of Addictive Production.

Nick Porrello, Staff Writer

       Despite that we have been in this pandemic for quite some time, there have been a consistent schedule of films being released on VOD (video on demand) and other sites like Amazon Prime. While this year so far has not had any releases that have jumped out as being a must-see, the newly released Capone starring Tom Hardy was shaping up to change that fact. 

       Organized crime and the mafia is a very interesting subject, and when done well, it can become a film that shines above the rest. Just last year we had Scorsese’s The Irishman, who won over fans despite the 210 minute runtime. However, Capone does not follow the trend of other organized crime films, for better or for worse. 

       The film details the last year of Al Capone’s life and the suffering that he went through throughout this period. Al Capone, at a very young age, had contracted syphilis that had been untreated for quite a while. This had gone for so long to the point where the syphilis traveled to the brain, forming neurosyphilis. This led to dementia at an early age, as well as hallucinations and loss of bladder and rectal control. Capone later died at the age of 48.  

       While this might not seem like it would be all that interesting, under the right hands it could become a surreal look at Capone’s past through hallucinations and his sins along the way. However, with Josh Trank at the helm as director, as well as Tom Hardy giving possibly the worst performance of his life, Capone is something to behold but for the wrong reasons.

       In this film, Tom Hardy goes all out in this performance, to the point where it was difficult to not chuckle whenever he was given dialogue. There is audio of Al Capone speaking, and Hardy had the right idea. However he delivers it in such a way where he either is completely inaudible due to his grunting, or he is doing an impression  of Danny Devito. There is no subtlety whatsoever, neither in the performance or the film itself. That being said, there is some ironic enjoyment that can be had from his performance, but it is few and far between from the rest of the film. 

       There are other notable actors in the film, such as Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon, and Kyle Maclachlan, all of whom have nothing to do throughout the whole runtime. They are all doing the best they can with the script given to them, however they are underutilized.

       Josh Trank acts as both the director and editor of the film, and his work is subpar in both cases. Most of the scenes consist of Capone and one or two other people sitting and talking, standing and talking, or hallucinations, where Capone is walking around or sitting. There is one action scene that occurs during the end, but there is nothing special about how Trank directs it. The editing in contrast, is very jarring. While the scenes themselves might be very tame and calm, the editing is the complete opposite, with quick cuts every second, leading to handfuls of continuity errors and disorientation. 

       Lastly, the film gives a very disrespectful take on dementia and what Capone was going through at this time, one in which some could find offensive. There is one running joke throughout the film where Capone continues to soil himself, and it is supposed to be intentionally funny, but it falls flat everytime, to the point where it starts to get uncomfortable. Even without having to deal with the pain of a loved one suffering through this terrible illness, it was quite discomforting and angering seeing this portrayal. 

       Josh Trank’s Capone is a boring and morally questionable biopic that is lifted into ironic enjoyment solely due to Hardy’s bonkers performance. Check out the film on Amazon Prime and VOD if interested, but Capone gets a 2/10.