In Case You Missed It

Alchemy: A scientific endeavor with the intent of turning common substances into gold.  With that definition in mind, I thought it was appropriate that Capone’s Boys was made by a company known as “Alchemy Pictures”.

Capone’s Boys is NOT gold.  But, as with all other alchemy attempts, it falls just short of its goal.  However, the film’s creators might have managed to produce silver or bronze instead.  That is to say, Capone’s Boys is not a GREAT movie, but it is a rather good movie.

The film begins with three young English immigrants, just arriving in the United States in 1927.  Through a series of circumstances, they end up in Chicago, and find themselves working for Al Capone.  In what capacity? Hitmen? No.  Not quite.  Bodyguards? Guess again.  How about Broom-boys in a warehouse? There you go, right on the money.

Add to that, a plot about a championship boxing match, a kidnapping scheme, and some fairly likable hookers, and you have the makings of a decent movie.

Capone’s Boys features virtually no big name actors.  The one possible exception being Richard Roundtree (the original John Shaft).  Warwick Davis also makes a brief appearance (but calling Warwick Davis a “big” actor is kind of cruel).

To be honest, when I rented the film, I was leery.  I discovered that the original title was Al’s Lads.  Usually, when a movie is released under two different names, there is a reason.  If a movie is unsuccessful, the studio might try to repackage it under a different title for the DVD release—hoping to fool unsuspecting renters.  But, I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised.

The settings, costumes and music are all great.  The movie does an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the era.  Speakeasies, bootleggers, jazz music and flappers, it’s all there.  From the dancing and night-life, to the dangers of gangland Chicago, the film-makers give a reasonable portrayal of life in the 1920’s.  I’m sure there are some hard-core history buffs out there who could tear the plot to shreds and point out a thousand inaccuracies.  But, such is the danger for any film that takes on a historical period.

At times, this movie seems unable to find itself.  The film-makers seemed unable to decide if they wanted to make a boxing movie or a gangster movie.  Yet, it still manages to be entertaining and watchable despite that.  Are there better boxing movies? yes.  Are there better gangster movies? yes.  But for mixing the two together, it does pretty well.

If you enjoyed movies like The Untouchables and Road to Perdition, you will probably enjoy Capone’s Boys.  Or, if you just have an interest in historical movies, or the 1920’s in particular, it might be worth your time.

Title: Capone’s Boys (AKA Al’s Lads)
Year: 2002
Rating: R
Advisories: Foul Language, Violence/Blood
Running Time: 105 Minutes