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Capone First Reviews: Tom Hardy Cranks up the Crazy in a Lynchian Fever Dream

Critics say writer-director Josh Trank's crime drama is uniquely bizarre, utterly fascinating, and full of poop. Literally.

by | May 11, 2020 | Comments

Tom Hardy is the latest actor to portray notorious gangster Al Capone, and from the sound of it, nobody else ever needs to portray him again. Writer-director Josh Trank’s Capone is dividing critics, but everyone agrees that Hardy’s performance is out of this world, for better or worse. The movie itself sounds pretty crazy, too, as it depicts the criminal’s final year, when he was suffering from dementia. Right now, we can all use something out of the ordinary in our entertainment, and with Hardy shooting for the moon in the lead, Capone sounds like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Who isn’t enticed by that?

Here’s what critics are saying about Capone:


How crazy is Capone?

It’s nuts, it’s a mess and it’s pretty damn entertaining if you don’t mind characters pooping the bed and getting stabbed in the neck.
– Steve Pond, The Wrap

Is Capone a fascinatingly idiosyncratic twilight-of-the-mobster drama? Or is it a Saturday Night Live sketch with pretensions? It may be a bit of both.
– Owen Gleiberman, Variety

Tidal waves, CGI alligators, characters who cut their own eyeballs out of their skulls – when was the last time you saw a movie about mobsters that had any of this stuff?
– Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

It’s not pleasing, but it’s too weird to be boring… You sit there and wonder how bizarre this movie is going to get and, scene by scene, you find out.
– Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

What begins as a gonzo lark quickly becomes exhausting.
– Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair


Is it worth seeing as a fun diversion?

As nutty as Capone gets as a karmic fever dream for its violent subject, it’s also really watchable in a break-your-brain sort of way.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

All hell breaks loose… and viewers have to make up their minds: Are you going to run from this whacked-out twilight of the gods, or give in to it?
Steve Pond, The Wrap

This hollow if perversely watchable exercise in self-annihilation builds to a violent finale that finally makes good on the biopic’s sordid potential.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Starved as we are for big, exciting diversion right now, I won’t blame you if you decide to give Hardy that attention. Maybe you’ll see something worthy in the raving crypt keeper.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair


Tom Hardy as Al Capone in Capone
(Photo by Vertical Entertainment)

Is Tom Hardy the biggest reason to see the movie?

The borderline self-parodying Method madness of Tom Hardy’s performance does kind of demand to be seen.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Hardy’s psychotic portrayal is compelling and worth the price of admission.
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

The combination of Hardy’s performance and the energy Trank and his crew bring to these fever-dream sequences make the whole project worth it.
Aaron Neuwirth, We Live Entertainment


How is his performance?

Hardy, all guttural growls and tics, seems to be vying for the prize of Most Acting.
Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

Hardy’s performance is undoubtedly so unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
Brian Truitt, USA Today

A career-best performance, which is never anything short of fascinating.
Josh Wilding, ComicBookMovie.com

Hardy gets to go as big as he possibly can… He shuffles, he stumbles, he mumbles, he drools. Buried under make-up, there are shots here where he doesn’t even look human.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

Hardy’s on a roll with bonkers performances… if he cannot figure out a way to dial into the frequency of his directors, people will stop seeing a master performer at work.
Marshall Shaffer, The Playlist

Yes, Hardy chews the scenery… his over-the-top destructive nature comes across as cartoonish because we’re unable to contrast that malice with moments of calm, collective authority.
Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage


Tom Hardy as Al Capone in Capone
(Photo by Vertical Entertainment)

Who does he remind you of?

Hardy once again combines the fearless commitment of early Marlon Brando with the utter unintelligibility of much older Marlon Brando.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire

Tom Hardy playing dying Al Capone is as if Nick Nolte were playing the First vampire from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

Hardy’s Fonse more than anything recalls Al Pacino’s crazed mugging as the Capone-inspired Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice in Dick Tracy.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter


What’s this about him pooping himself?

Hardy turns his cast into unwilling straight men for his routine, such as during a tense interview with FBI agents that ends with Capone loudly farting and defecating himself.
Marshall Shaffer, The Playlist

Capone routinely soils himself, chomps on cigars and later carrots, accuses loved ones and employees of being assassins, shoots an alligator.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

Hey, you haven’t seen Al Capone until you’ve seen him chomping on a carrot and wielding a machine gun while wearing a droopy diaper.
Steve Pond, The Wrap

You tell me if you want to see a movie featuring not one, not two, but three separate scenes in which the increasingly feeble Capone loses control of his bladder and/or his bowels.
Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

Not only is he incontinent – yes, there are multiple, uncomfortably lengthy scenes where Al Capone sh–s himself in this movie, folks – he’s also prone to hallucinations.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

This movie is not going to win points for its handling of the indignities of dementia.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter


Is this a comedy?

Of course, it’s funny. Intentionally? How could it not be?
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

There is a grotesque humor… Trank’s macabre humor never feels like mockery.
Hope Madden, Columbus Underground


Linda Cardellini as Mae Capone in Capone
(Photo by Vertical Entertainment)

Are there any other great performances?

Linda Cardellini flexes more in the role of Capone’s wife Mae than she has in her many other turns as put-upon spouse. She’s a great sparring partner for Hardy.
Hope Madden, Columbus Underground

Linda Cardellini is excellent as Capone’s devoted wife, and Matt Dillon (always underrated) has a solid role as one of Al’s old cronies. Of course, McLachlan is fun to watch as well.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium


How does it compare to, say, The Irishman?

Think Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman taken to the extreme.
Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Imagine the last 10 minutes of The Irishman but as a 100-minute film.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

You could think of Capone as The Irishman as reimagined by David Lynch.
Steve Pond, The Wrap

While Scorsese utilizes Frank Sheeran hanging on the brink of death to explore morality and mortality in the gangster genre, what Trank has to say about a similar era in a dying man’s life is more nightmarish fever-dream clouded by paranoia and dread.
Marshall Shaffer, The Playlist

The last half hour of The Irishman crossed with the doddering-legend parts of Citizen Kane, all mixed in with Hardy’s apparent desire to play the creature in Frankenstein.
Owen Gleiberman, Variety


Are there other comparisons?

This is primarily a head movie that unfolds in the sepulchral chambers of Capone’s addled skull with a heavy load of woozy Lynchian weirdness and a dash of Kubrick’s The Shining.
David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Imagine a Ken Russell artist biopic, not one about Liszt or Mahler but about a befuddled blob.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Twilight Zone riff on the This is Your Life template wherein the subject is transported through a Jacob’s Ladder-esque hole towards oblivion.
Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage

Capone begins to feel like a riff on A Christmas Carol, with Scarface standing in for old Scrooge. But there’s no redemption here.
Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm


Matt Dillon in Capone
(Photo by Vertical Entertainment)

Is it going to get any Oscar love?

It would be a sign of a truly, truly broken year if this hideous indulgence of a film gained any of that kind of traction.
Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

It may not be Oscar worthy, but it’s an odd duck that’s kind of a perfect change of pace flick during these strange times.
Joey Magidson, Hollywood News


Is it a good comeback for Josh Trank?

An undeniable return to form which should put him back on the radar in a big way.
Josh Wilding, ComicBookMovie.com

Capone isn’t a knockout comeback, but it’s an undeniably striking and bold endeavor that transcends genre constraints and conventional molds.
Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage

Trank attempts to do a David Cronenberg or David Lynch style movie, a move that’s a major reset for his career.
Chris Bumbray, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Put it this way… If his next movie is like Fantastic Four, I don’t want to see it. But if his next movie is as purely nuts as Capone, I’m there.
Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle


Capone will be released on VOD on Tuesday, May 12.

#1

Capone (2020)
41%

#1
Adjusted Score: 46.666%
Critics Consensus: Tom Hardy makes the most of his opportunity to tackle a challenging role, but Capone is too haphazardly constructed to support his fascinating performance.
Synopsis: Once a ruthless businessman and bootlegger who ruled Chicago with an iron fist, Alfonse Capone was the most infamous and... [More]
Directed By: Josh Trank

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