Out of jail and no longer deemed a threat to society, Public Enemy No.1 Al Capone (as played by Tom Hardy) is dying of neurosyphilis. With his mind disintegrating, Capone rages about the millions of dollars that he’s secretly hidden away. Yet, like vultures at the burial, both the FBI and Capone’s confidantes are waiting for the big reveal – but does the money even exist or is it all just in Capone’s mind?
…teases you with moments of lucidity to only to despair of them and only to refocus on Capone’s deteriorating body.
From out of the career-crushing wreckage that was 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot, director Josh Trank could easily have disappeared and never been seen again. And yet keen to prove his detractors wrong he’s back with Fonzo (now retitled as Capone) and with him and this time he has brought the mercurial talent of Tom Hardy to the lead role. Having crushed it as Charles Bronson for Nicholas Winding Refn and palpably disappeared inside the skin of both of the Kray twins for Brian Helgeland’s Legend, Hardy definitely has the criminal pedigree. When we meet his Alphonso Capone, he’s stumbling around the garden much the same as Marlon Brando’s munificent monster, Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather II.
With a voice is that crunched by accelerated decrepitude, Hardy’s take on Capone is that of a smitten cherub slashed by a past he can barely remember, and Josh Trank gives his leading man plenty of opportunities to stare out of the screen, cigar permanently wedged into to the side of his cheek. However sadly, the results are neither pitiful nor intimidating.
Also with a script that is unwilling to take a clear position on its subject, Trank’s tale never really affords Tom Hardy a decent plot he can really catch hold of. As a result, the film meanders and teases you with moments of lucidity to only to despair of them and only to refocus on Capone’s deteriorating body. With the only identifiable thread of missing treasure, the movie inadvertently drifts into a pompous version of Daddy’s Dying, Who’s Got The Will? Which is a shame because it’s clear from the screen that Tom Hardy is giving it his all.
Yet, overly reliant on a crackling, radio serial to transport Capone back to his past, Trank’s latest is an attractively filmed but ultimately repetitive collection of scenes that never really add up to much.
That said, a real winner emerges at the very end. As the credits roll upwards, and there’s nothing to distract you, El-P’s echo-ing film score succeeds in finding a stage upon which Hardy’s Capone should have been allowed to rage.