Gangster Movie Month: "The Untouchables" Review

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Brian De Palma directs this larger-than-life screen depiction of the mob warlord who ruled Prohibition-era Chicago and the law enforcer who vowed to bring him down. Kevin Costner stars as federal agent Eliot Ness, who, along with The Untouchables, sets out to dismantle gangland kingpin Al Capone (Robert De Niro) and his empire. Sean Connery co-stars, giving an Oscar-winning performance as officer Jim Malone, a.k.a. the cop who taught Ness how to beat the mob.
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Gangster Movie Month: "The Untouchables" Review

-- Rating: R
Length: 119 minutes
Release Date: Jun. 3, 1987
Directed by: Brian DePalma
Genre: Crime/Drama/Mystery
Cast: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro

"The Untouchables" presents a frightening and insightful look into the gangster world of Chicago in the 1920s, and it describes the prolonged fight for justice by a federal agent with meager means to get the job done. Based on the hunt for Al Capone (De Niro), a notorious mob boss, the viewer is treated to a seemingly authentic look at life in the prohibition era. Elliot Ness (Costner), a naïve federal agent, pulls together a team to bring Capone and his criminal gang to justice. The first member of his crew is Jim Malone (Connery), a tough-guy and former cop who thrives on telling it like it is.

Instinctively, Malone admonishes Ness for his immature belief in his capabilities to end Capone's reign, but he is eventually won over by Ness and his confident ways. The two search for trustworthy allies, and they enlist a rookie (Garcia) and an accountant (Wallace) to complete their team. Capone and his army, however, are not going to allow aggressive tactics to impact mob affairs without a fight. Fueled by a passionate hatred for a two-bit federal agent, Capone unleashes multiple bloody attacks in an all-out war on those who dare to get in his way. Ness retaliates with calculated moves based on the intuitiveness and support of his trusted mentor Malone. In the end, the battle between these two rivals on the streets of Chicago is not the impetus for Capone's fall from power; instead, it is his own arrogance for not paying Uncle Sam his due.

Costner comes off flawlessly as the youthful, inexperienced federal agent with a quest to rid his world of the mafia king-pin. His boy-like charm only adds to his credibility of being blind to the inner workings of reality in the streets of a crime-ridden Chicago. As Ness, he is supported by one of the most revered members in cinematic society. As always, Connery is in true fighting form, sporting the tough-guy image of a man who has seen it all and wants nothing more to do with anyone's pursuit of alleged justice. He delivers his lines with authority and in his own inimitable style. Connery was perfectly cast in this role. It is Connery who states: "They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way." This statement alone inspires Ness and the movie viewer to root for the underdog-even if it is the government. Last but not least, we visit the actor who plays the egregious mobster. As far as De Niro's role in "The Untouchables" goes, he is Capone. He encapsulates the man in every scene. There is no one who could convey Capone's character as well as De Niro other than Capone himself.

If you appreciate on-location shootings and eagerly await recognizable scenes, you're in for a treat. The "The Untouchables" takes full advantage of Chicago's historic architecture. It boasts views of notable buildings, significant districts, and neighborhood hangouts, such as the Michigan Avenue Bridge. For this feat, it was no wonder the Academy Awards nominated "The Untouchables" for Best Art Direction-Set Direction. Adding to the authenticity of this extraordinary period-piece is the realistically genuine attire worn by the cast, which received a nod from the Academy with the nomination for Best Costume Design.

Quite understandably, "The Untouchables" won in the Top Box Office Films category at the ASCAP Film and Television Awards. In addition, this impressive film was nominated for four Academy Awards. Although the performances given by De Niro and Costner were exceptional, the Oscar went to Connery, who won in the Best Supporting Actor category.

Director Brian DePalma is widely known for seizing the attention of his audiences with an impenetrable grip in a myriad of box-office hits, which include "Scarface," "Carlito's Way," and "Mission Impossible." His efforts in "The Untouchables" is a prime example of his mastery of cinematography. It will be remembered in the film annals as a brilliantly directed movie. It is filled with epic scenes, displaying a graphic battle between the mafia and the government in an all-consuming war of good against evil. "The Untouchables" is an engaging film that transports the viewer to days gone by, and it exhibits a standard of excellence that every movie viewer should experience. Its strong characters, impressive dialogue, and cinematic views will extinguish any straying thought you might have involving your own life as you remain wrapped in the notoriously sinister plot of the "The Untouchables."

Rating: 4 out of 5