(US/Canada - 2020)
Written and directed by Josh Trank. Cast: Tom Hardy, Linda Cardellini, Matt Dillon, Kyle MacLachlan, Jack Lowden, Noel Fisher, Gino Cafarelli, Al Sapienza, Kathrine Narducci, Neal Brennan, Mason Guccione, Wayne Pere, Rose Blanco, Manuel Fajardo Jr., Josh Trank, David Wachs, Troy Warren Anderson. (R, 103 mins)
After sci-fi sleeper CHRONICLE became a surprise hit in 2012, Josh Trank was being fast-tracked for the A-list. Anointed a Next Big Thing, he was given 2015's $155 million FANTASTIC FOUR reboot and, well, things didn't work out. There were rumors of "erratic behavior" on the set, he clashed with 20th Century Fox after they ordered reshoots and then re-edited the film without his input or involvement, he trashed the studio and the movie in a quickly-deleted Twitter tirade the day before its release, the reviews were apocalyptically bad, the endless negative press prompted fans to stay away, and his efforts were rewarded with a Razzie win for Worst Director. Only one of Trank's stars--Toby Kebbell, who played Doctor Doom--publicly defended him, though Trank did claim to get a letter from Stan Lee asking if he "was OK." While FANTASTIC FOUR was in production, Trank was attached to a proposed standalone STAR WARS film but was dismissed. The excuse given was that execs wanted to "take the project in a different direction," but the decision was strongly rumored to be the result of Trank burning bridges in the FANTASTIC FOUR debacle.
CAPONE, with a garbled, mushmouthed Ben Gazzara in the title role. Capone is played here by Tom Hardy, under some heavy makeup and diving head-on into the character, leaving any vanity at the door in a performance that somehow manages to demonstrate fearless commitment and over-the-top self-indulgence at the same time. Playing Capone as the decaying, desiccated shell of the man he once was, Hardy most of the time looks and acts less like your standard image of Al Capone and more like Grandpa Sawyer from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. There's little in the way of story--a search for an alleged $10 million that Capone stashed away at some point but can't remember where, repeat phone calls from an illegitimate son named Tony (Mason Guccione), and the possibility that Capone is exaggerating the extent of his illness, none of which are satisfactorily explored--and a lot of what happens is Capone having stream of consciousness thoughts, imagining people who aren't there, replaying past events in his life, and exhibiting nearly every bodily function imaginable.
THE FANATIC. For better or worse (mostly the latter), you can't accuse him of slacking on the job. He speaks in a guttural grunt that almost sounds like he's possessed, he gets up during a screening of THE WIZARD OF OZ and sings "If I Were King of the Forest" along with the Cowardly Lion, he has wild outbursts, contorts his face and shrieks "Assassino!" at loyal soldier Gino (Gino Cafarelli) before emphatically throwing himself on the floor, runs outside with some kids and rolls around in the mud, gets all crazy-eyed in a dream sequence where he's at a nightclub with Louis Armstrong (Troy Warren Anderson) singing "Blueberry Hill," goes on a fishing trip in drag, and shoots an alligator after it chomps on the catch he was reeling in. CAPONE was shot two years ago under the title FONZO (the nickname everyone calls Capone), and was allegedly intended to go to theaters until COVID-19 happened, or so say co-distributors Vertical Entertainment and Redbox. Really? Is that so? The pandemic forcing the closing of all the theaters is the reason why this Vertical Entertainment/Redbox title went straight to VOD? Yeah, OK. Are you sure about that?