Tag Archives: josh trank

‘Capone’ Review

For better or worse, a mumbling and incoherent Al Capone is the role that Tom Hardy was born to play.

“Capone” follows the notorious bootlegging gangster Al Capone in the final year of his life, now retired in Florida with his mind rotting from syphilis. Tom Hardy stars in the title role, alongside Linda Cardellini, Jack Lowden, Noel Fisher, Kyle MacLachlan, and Matt Dillon, while Josh Trank writes, edits, and directs.

In 2015, Josh Trank directed “Fantastic Four” and the results were notably poor. Not only was the film a critical dud and box office bomb, but even before the film’s release Trank (who had reportedly been difficult to deal with while filming) disowned the project and has since spoken out against the studio system. “Capone” is his first film since that (he was supposed to direct a “Star Wars” spin-off but left/was fired), and the passion behind it is clear. Trank must have been a fan of the famous gangster and wanted to give his own take on the genre beyond the classic “rise-and-fall” formula, and while the results are middling, that doesn’t mean the film is not worth checking out on a rainy afternoon.

Tom Hardy has had an interesting but successful career, starring in seemingly every Christopher Nolan film from “Dark Knight Rises” to “Dunkirk,” as well as an Oscar-nominated turn in “The Revenant,” mumbling and grunting his way through each role. Here, he plays Al Capone, a grown man with the mental capacity of a 12-year-old. Capone is physically and mentally falling apart due to disease, while his soul is being eaten alive by the guilt of his crimes. Hardy seems to be having a good time making nonsensical threats to gardeners and shooting confused glances at hallucinations, and even if this isn’t an attempt at an Oscar, the performance is a decent-enough look at a single year of an infamous man’s life.

The plot of the film is pretty straight-forward, and could be best described as “Bugsy” meets the final act of “The Irishman.” A once bigger-than-life criminal has retired to a quiet life but his past still haunts him, and his actions that made him who he is have left him alienated and alone. Josh Trank, to no fault of his own, is no Martin Scorsese (who is?) and he doesn’t have three-plus hours to have us grow with these characters, so the pondering thoughts and themes he tries to convey don’t hit as much as they do in “Irishman.” It is all surface-level, but much like Hardy’s performance it gets the job done just-enough to be worthy of praising the effort.

Shot in Louisiana on a $20 million budget the film looks pretty competent, and that is the word that best describes “Capone” as a whole: totally competent. There is nothing extraordinary about it, however nothing completely damning, either. Things just progress as you expect them to (save for a bonkers finale where you have no idea what is going on), and while I may not remember the film in a few months, I think that its desire to be a more personal take on a genre that all-too-often focuses on the flashy excess make it worth checking out for period piece fans like myself.

Critics Rating: 6/10

‘Fantastic Bore’ Is Frustratingly Awful

Fantastic_Four_2015_posterI am at a loss for words on how uneventful this movie is, so no time for a clever opening. Let’s just get right into this evisceration.

“Fantastic Four” is the latest attempt to reboot the Marvel Comics team of the same name, and stars Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell as Mr. Fantastic, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman and The Thing, respectively. [Normally this is where I would insert a brief plot summary, but truly this film is so massively uneventful that I couldn’t give you a storyline if I tried]. Josh Trank, who directed “Chronicle,” directs and co-writes here.

Right from its conception, this film was a mess. It was no secret that Sony made it simply to hold onto the rights, and then there are plenty of stories of Trank showing up on set stoned and drunk, or not showing up at all (for legal reasons, I should say “allegedly”). Then they had to do extensive reshoots, which are painfully obvious due to haircuts/wigs and awkward dialogue dubs. In all honesty, look up all the behind-the-scenes drama involving the director and producers; it is 100x more entertaining than the movie they ended up creating.

On top of those red flags, ear-piercing alarms should have been sounding when it was announced the film wouldn’t allow reviews to be posted until the day before release (which is as sure a sign that a movie is terrible as dark clouds mean it’s going to rain), and lead actor Miles Teller saying that none of the stars had seen the finished film, and that “rarely are films of this size critically well received”. That’s…comforting.

Boy, halfway done with this review and all I’ve done is give reasons why we all thought it would fail. Where are my manners? Who knows? Maybe all the reshoots and on-set tension created something truly special, and we were worrying for nothing! (We weren’t, though, this movie is awful)

I truly, honestly, sincerely have no idea where to begin. I am genuinely at a loss for words, and that isn’t a great thing to be considering my God-given talent (and livelihood) is putting pen to paper. I guess we can start with how badly they botched the amazing cast. I am a huge Miles Teller fan; I’ve had a man-crush on him ever since “21 & Over.” But here? Oh boy, did Trank and Co. try their very hardest to make him awful. The entire cast, in fact; they’re all talented young actors who together have no chemistry. I hate to compare this to the 2005 film because I think reboots should be judged on their own accord, but say what you will about the old F4 films, at least the four members seemed like they were friends.

Next is the “plot.” If you’ve seen the trailer you’ve seen the film. I remember watching the trailers and every time I would think, “this looks like it’s spliced from just three scenes, what’s the plot?” And I was right to question; there is no plot. What shred of a narrative there is revolves around the group building an interdimensional transportation device (because simply going to space nowadays is too mainstream), getting their powers, and then everything kind of rushes an oh-my-god awful ending.

Seriously, though, the ending to this movie is just…I don’t even know. To steal a quote from Michael Scott: “It’s simply beyond words. It’s incalculable”. The first third of the film is innocent enough, showing a young Teller trying to crack all the science, and then there’s a few (I stress, A FEW) interesting and fun moments. Then they get their powers by traveling to “Planet Zero” (named after how much interest I had left in the film by this point) and Trank treats it like a horror film, which for a second I liked. The idea of finding your one friend burning alive and another trapped in a pile of rocks is enough to break a psyche. But then they skip ahead a year (because who wants to watch them struggle and learn to control their new powers, right?) and everything gets worse. You get bored and the film goes nowhere.

Then the climax happens, and oh my God. I didn’t think it was possible to have negative amount of suspense or emotional attachment to a film, but give “Fantastic Four” credit because it did just that. When Victor Von Doom (Toby Kebbell) arrives to be the villain (after all, with a name like that, he had a limited pool of career choices), you don’t care. There is one fun tracking shot of him walking down a hallway and he makes everyone he passes’ head explode, but then he engages in a horrible CGI battle with the Four. And you just. don’t. care.

Look, I could go on for days about why this movie is awful, but my head may just explode like one of those poor people Dr. Doom strolls past. The film plays out as one big (boring) trailer for future films, which, based on critical and fanboy reception, I doubt we’ll ever see, and it’s adorable the filmmakers thought they ever would. “The Incredibles” remains the only truly good Fantastic Four film, and this makes the 2005 film and its sequel look like “The Dark Knight.”

I thought critic Ben Mankiewicz’s description of the film perfectly sums everything up: “it feels like the first episode of a TV series that you are certain to not watch the second episode of.” Amen, brother. “Fantastic Four” is not fun, it’s not exciting and it’s certainly not good. Just go plop yourself down in front of the dryer for an hour 45; you’ll get more entertainment and odds are more character development than this film could ever offer.

Critics Rating: 2/10