October 2016. Creators of Capone announced that Tom Hardy will bring back to life this iconic, notorious gangster. What remained unknown back then, was that it will be a story of his most painful year; last year of his life. Sadly enough, when you read about Al Capone (we don’t use that name here), he was one of the “true” gangsters – charming and kind (do not mistake his kindness for weakness!) but if need be, he would destroy you, without overthinking it. And yet, after watching Capone, I felt… Sorry for him. Something broke inside me, because I felt sympathy for the devil.
There is something about every gangster I ever read about – they care, mor than we think. Especially for their families. Family is sacred ground (I love this phrase, sacred ground. It’s carries a lot of sadness, if you watch Chicago Fire. If not, just put this clip on, and you will understand why it’s so important to me), and all can be justified for they well-being. Be honest with me, who will hate on a man, who wants to provide for his loved ones? Look, I am the last one to defend bad guys, but just think about it – wouldn’t you take one step too far for your parents? Wouldn’t you take that shot for your children? Those thoughts scare me, really, because they prove that in the end, we are all the same. How far are we willing to go in the name of love? I remember thinking the same after I read Public Enemies: The True Story of America’s Greatest Crime Wave by Bryan Burrough years ago.
But Al Capone, like every other man of his kind (though let’s be real: he was ONE of a kind…), took a few (a lot) steps too far. His hands were covered in red up to the elbows, even though he had others to do his dirty work.
Al Capone started small and made his way all the way to the top – brothels, illegal brewery and alcohol business in times of prohibition and smuggling, made him awfully rich. He was a “right hand” of Johnny Torrio, evil Italian mobster who helped create crime organization in Chicago. Being “number 2” was great opportunity for Capone to grow stronger. He was wary of being drawn into gang wars and tried to negotiate agreements over territory between rival gangs. After scary events, that were result of the gang-wars, Torrio handed over the power to Capone. At age of 26, he became the most powerful man in Chicago. And suddenly, he was able to use more violence to increase revenue of his illegal operations. People who refused to purchase liquor from him often got blown up, hundred were killed in such bombings during the 1920s. Rivals saw Capone as responsible for the proliferation of brothels in the city.
He was associated with Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre (1929), where seven man were murdered; lined up against the wall and shot, by four killers, dressed in police uniforms. The perpetrators were never conclusively identified, but people still suspected Al Capone. And, as shown in the film, he was capable of such things.
When asked about his “activities” he often responded that he is a businessman, giving the people what they want„; all he does is satisfy a public demand. Ahh, he did like the spotlight and I think that it is a gangster-complex. Take a look at John Dillinger. Heck, even I fell for his charm! But that’s what sociopath will do to you.
Capone thrived in the attention (at first) and loved luxurious goods and companionship. Unfortunately, during one of his visits in a brothel, he got infected with syphilis, for which he never sought proper treatment – and it became his doom.
Let me tell you about the first time I saw pictures of Tom Hardy with characterization, make up and clothes on. It blew my mind! The transformation was unbelievable. But that’s the thing with Tom Hardy – he always goes that extra mile. In The Dark Knight Rises he was completely mesmerizing as psychotic Bane. His voice though that mask still gives me goosebumps. Or the way he played twin brothers in Legend – two drastically different personalities? Hats off. So, I was calm about this casting choice; even though I knew little about Capone himself. Or the movie, for that matter. But once the first “fresh” pictures were posted online, instantly “breaking” the Internet, I was confident that this movie will be a good one – but not in conventional understanding. And you know what? I am really happy that it wasn’t released in the cinemas (thanks, ‘rona). Firstly, it is not a typical “experience it in the cinema” kind of picture. It’s dark, twisted and weird. Secondly, it shows the most painful year for Al Capone and his loved ones. Watching it felt like going through very twisted diary of a very sick person.
Story kick offs 6-7 years after Capone’s release from prison – sentenced (in the end) for tax evasion crime; deemed no longer threat after 10 years, and being physically and mentally unwell, he retired with his family in Palm Island, Florida. Fonse, as his family calls him, is 47 but looks 80. The underestimated, uncured sickness from his prime years came to harvest its poisonous crops… Like I said, Capone is this horrifying picture of this most painful, last year of his life – where familiar faces became strange, cigar cough causes grown man to piss his pants and nightmares (or recurring hallucinations) make him shit the bed. And Hardy’s performance, the effort he put into this, was spectacular. Terrifying, but spectacular.
He is so damn good in this role, that often I had to rewind to understand what the hell he was saying under his breath. So, if you will do the same, worry not. It’s not your hearing or English skills. It’s just Hardy being absolutely best.
Plot itself is not particularly engaging but the strongest point of this movie is indeed Tom Hardy. He presents Capone as a man trapped in his personal mad house; wandering about and seeing things that are not there. The past, finally catching up to haunt him, in a form of “Johnny” – a man that he killed, overusing the violence. Gosh, can you hear the sound of this? Overuse of violence. Brutality IS an overuse. But Capone engages in the conversation in his mind, as he has a secret… A secret that everyone is after. Buried fortune.
Tom Hardy, with carrot-cigar in his mouth, drooling and snapping out on the workers around the house, once again gracefully and (seemingly) effortlessly, jumped over the bar of his artistic performances. And I really though that there is no way he can do it. But after The Dark Knight Rises, he kept on proving me wrong, setting the bar few inches higher. Not once he knocked it over, not even in Venom.
I find it hard to explain Capone, to people who haven’t seen it yet. Hardy’s performance is something that cannot be described with words, but I’m trying my best here. What sickness has done to Capone, Hardy recreated in the slightest detail – memory loss, losing control of his motor functions… Everything about him – the way he spoke (both English and Italian); the way he starred into “nothing” for a minute; the way he looked at you but at the same time right through you, as you are a ghost; intensity with how he tried to remember where are the money; and lastly the way he discovered that things are happening in his head, only to forget it in the next second… All of this is simply hard to believe. And yet, he has done it.
With every grunt, helpless drawing of money bags, story from childhood times in Brooklyn, corps on a rainy street, Hardy brings us closer to the truths – where are the money and why Johnny – voice of his conscience – showed up in his head after such a long time. Those truths are the treats that I will leave for you to discover.
I consider Capone a piece of art – but not in a general meaning. It is horrific, angry and blood-soaked picture, a game of conscience and ruthlessness of untreated illness. But also, this is an artistic way of portraying how painful life is and how karma can get back on you. This movie is bold and significant – maybe not considering Capone himself, but when you look at fragility of a human being, once strong and capable of unspeakable things… It makes a lot of sense. Like I said, the plot is not particularly captivating. But putting it aside and focusing on Hardy’s Capone, you will experience something extraordinary.
Now that I think about it, I had similar feelings when I watched Joker – similar, not the same. I would never compare those two films, but there is something about them – perhaps what I mentioned in the beginning, sympathy for the devil… I will leave it for your reference and judgment.
One last thing: I said that it’s a good thing Capone didn’t hit cinemas – it was never going to be a money-maker. I am pretty sure, that it would be on the schedule for 2 weeks in polish cinemas. It’s a tricky movie, requires a lot of focus and attention. But still, over its first ten days the film made $2.5 million from digital sales, a record for Vertical Entertainment. So, there is still hope for movie industry, right?
We watched the planes leave us behind…
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.