CAPONE (2020) review/summary – Petrifying, yet brilliant

Review by Richard Hill

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Title: CAPONE
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Jack Lowden, Noel Fisher, Kyle MacLachlan, Matt Dillon, and Al Sapienza
Movie length: 1 hour 44 minutes

I’m going to start by saying everyone has their own taste in film, some see a movie and get a feeling of mediocrity, where others see a film and believe it’s Oscar worthy. This is why each of us is unique, we all have different tastes in what we like and dislike, and that’s okay because we are human after all. That being said I felt CAPONE was brilliant, it shows us as viewers the decent of a madman into madness. The film follows Al Capone in his last year of life after being released from prison at the request of his wife, on good behavior. At first, you’re like “what am I watching”, then you get maybe twenty or so minutes in and you become fascinated with Tom Hardy’s (Bronson, Venom) acting as an elderly Al Capone, as well as the story that’s being told.

The film opens with a few facts about Capone and then gives a lovely overview of a couple statues that he may have owned. The first is Cleopatra; the camera shows her from the front side, the other statue is of Julius Caesar, which clever enough the camera shows from behind. Then we come to a hallway with some suggestive music, and Capone is shown walking through very cautiously, the look in his eyes is very distant, but set on whatever he is looking for. He is holding a fire poker and enters a room, then out of nowhere a little girl appears in the closet, they both scream and he starts to chase her.

We come to find out that Capone is simply playing hide and go seek with his grandkids. I mean what a way to open the film, showing his rise to power and his fall in just moments, and in such a simplistic way. Immediately I knew this was going to be a film that I would have to pay attention to if I wanted to understand it better. Written and Directed by Josh Trank (Fantastic Four, Chronicle). I wasn’t too keen on watching it until I saw the trailer. I mean not only is this a film about the end of life for one of the world’s most notorious gangsters, but it also takes you on a ride through the mind of Al Capone as he slowly succumbs to dementia which is a terrible mind erasing disease. Some of the things in this film are factual, for instance the stroke Capone has that eventually leads to his heart attack and soon after his death. Some of it could have been complete fiction, like Capone wearing diapers or having an illegitimate son from a distant mistress. Regardless of what is real and what is not, Josh Trank takes from both to create this chilling masterpiece. I do enjoy how we are shown the inside of this now lost Ex-gangsters mind in the most interesting ways, sometimes while I was watching I couldn’t tell reality from what was just a figment of his imagination, or a dream. There was a wonderful ballroom scene that you think is real at first, but then you come to realize he is just visiting memories in the back of his mind.

You really feel like you are watching Al Capone struggle with separating what’s real and what’s fake in his memories, they even incorporated the old tale of the millions that Capone may have stashed someplace secret. There are parts of the film where the FBI are listening to him trying to find the money and parts where other gangsters are doing the same. There are two parts I love most in this film, the first being where Al Capone takes a rifle and shoots an alligator after it steals a fish off of his fishing rod. And the second moment is when Capone is watching “The Wizard of OZ” and starts to sing and dance with the Cowardly Lion, both of these scenes are beautiful ways to show just how much of his mind had become childlike due to his ongoing illness. It starts off a little slow as does any biopic, but it really digs deeper as it goes on, I will stop here because I have to recommend that you watch this Film. I really enjoyed it and I think Tom Hardy gives an Oscar worthy performance as Al Capone. I give this film a solid 9 out of 10, it was well written, well executed, superbly acted by its entire cast and even the musical score was on point. I know it has gotten awful reviews so far and only has a score of 41% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer and 27% Audience Score on the same site, I’m thinking everyone still has a bad taste in their mouths from Trank’s version of “Fantastic Four”. However, I have seen plenty of other films lean toward bad reviews, yet they were amazing and I have seen terrible films get great reviews. So, I encourage you to give this film a shot, make sure you go in knowing that it’s not a full-on gangster film and that it is only gangster themed, I think you may be pleasantly surprised.  Below I have left some fun facts about the film, hope you enjoy.

FUN FACTS

  1. This is Josh Trank’s first film since the critically acclaimed Fantastic Four.
  1. The switching from cigars to carrots scene in the film is an inside joke between Tom Hardy and Director Josh Trank.
  1. Allegedly Al Capone had hidden ten million dollars someplace before he started losing his mind, this is hinted at in the film many times and even suggests the money is hidden in his favorite statue at his home.
  1. Gold is a major theme in the movie because it symbolizes wealth, grandeur, and prosperity. These are all things Capone no longer has due to his mental state. The child with the gold balloon represents the abandonment of his other son leading him not to gold but to reconciliation with Capone’s past.
  1. There are FBI agents hidden around Capone’s property throughout the film, the reason for this is because they are looking for the money, he allegedly hid. To this day the money has never been found, so it is thought that it doesn’t actually exist. 

CAPONE is now available via VOD services including Amazon.


Have you seen the movie? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments or chat with me on Twitter.

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