CHENNAI: Several films have been made on Al Capone, the American mobster whose cold-blooded brutality became legendary in the American underworld. Of Italian descent, he first came to Chicago in 1919, when the city was notorious for bootlegging and rife with corruption. After committing countless crimes, he was finally caught and jailed in the early 1930s for tax evasion. He spent his last years in exile in Florida, where he lived under the watchful eye of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
In the latest take on the infamous gangster, Josh Trank’s bio-drama follows Capone (played by Tom Hardy) as he lives out his final years in Florida. As writer-director and editor, Trank narrates Capone’s twilight years through Hardy, with excellent results. There is a telling scene where Capone shoots a crocodile as it comes close to his fishing boat. His old gangster buddy, Johnny (played by Matt Dillon), quips: “You know, this is what happens when people spend too much time in Florida. They turn into ... hillbillies.” The scene artfully shows how Capone, with his bloodshot menacing eyes and a cigar stub between his lips, still thirsts for revenge.
Suffering from neurosyphilis, Capone has dementia and struggles to differentiate between reality and fantasy, facts from fragmented memories of a past he still considers glorious. He also fails to remember where he has stashed away $10 million, much to the annoyance of his family and others. Some try various means to get this information out, including a doctor and FBI agent Crawford (Jack Lowden).
Peter Deming’s camerawork tries to lighten the mood by panning across the lush Florida landscape and Capone’s own bright green lawns. Despite all this beauty, however, a sense of fear pervades the 103-minute run time. We are never allowed to forget the mobster’s evil doings, such as the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Capone, for his part, remains void of remorse, a perfect villain if there ever was one.