1920's prohibition Chicago is corrupt from the judges downward. So in going up against Al Capone, Treasury agent Eliot Ness picks just two cops to help him and his accountant colleague. One is a sharp-shooting rookie, the other a seen-it-all beat man. The four of them are ready to battle Capone and his empire, but it could just be that guns are not the best way to get him. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
If the bag the girl was holding at the beginning of the movie had really contained a bomb big enough to blow up a restaurant, the girl would not have been able to hold it at arm's length. See more »
1930. Prohibition has transformed Chicago into a City at War. Rival gangs compete for control of the city's billion dollar empire of illegal alcohol, enforcing their will with the hand grenade and tommy gun. It is the time of the Ganglords. It is the time of Al Capone.
[to Al Capone]
An article, which I believe appeared in a newspaper, asked why, since you are, or it would seem that you are, in effect, the mayor of Chicago, you've not simply been appointed to that position.
[...] See more »
The title of the aria "Vesti la giubba" from Leoncavallo's opera "Pagliacci" is misspelled in the closing credits of the film: "Vesti la guibba". See more »
In 1919, over the veto of President Wilson, the Volstead Act was passed, which made provisions for the enforcement of the Eighteenth Amendment, and successfully ushered in the era of Prohibition; what it did not do, was keep people from drinking, or more significantly, keep certain `businessmen' from selling it, which opened the flood gates to a billion dollar industry of illegal alcohol. And in the larger cities, the mob bosses jumped onto the bandwagon with both feet, the most notorious of which was Al Capone, who by 1930 had a thriving business and the city and the people of Chicago in his pocket. From the cop on the beat to the judges sitting on the highest courts, everyone seemingly had a price and could be bought. And that's the way it was until Treasury Agent Eliot Ness showed up for work and hand picked a squad of honest cops to help him get Capone and clean up the City of Chicago. `The Untouchables,' directed by Brian De Palma, is the story of Ness and his men, dubbed `Untouchable' because they couldn't be bought, though from the beginning the odds were stacked against them. They were a handful against an army of hoodlums who wielded grenades and tommy guns, and they could trust no one outside of their own circle, not even the cops with whom they shared the streets. Many looked upon what Ness was trying to do as an exercise in futility, but he never gave up, and went after Capone with everything he had, which wasn't much beyond his own guts and determination to `do some good.'
Ness's initial efforts were a disaster-- Capone had informants everywhere and always knew ahead of time whenever a raid was going down-- so he quickly realized that the only way to do this thing right was to get men he could trust and keep everything quiet. The bureau responded by sending Ness (Kevin Costner) an accountant, Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith), who first had the idea of going after Capone for income tax evasion. Ness then recruited Jim Malone (Sean Connery), a veteran cop who walked a beat and was well versed in doing things `The Chicago way,' and George Stone (Andy Garcia) a crack shot recruited right out of the Police Academy.
Connery gives an exemplary performance as Malone (for which he received the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), the tough, Irish cop who becomes something of a tutor to Ness, letting him know from the start what he's getting himself into. How do you deal with someone of Capone's ilk? According to Malone, `If he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. If he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way-- that's how you get Capone.' It's a perfect part for Connery, whose rugged appearance and demeanor are entirely convincing; he's got that somewhat cynical, world-wise and weary manner of a man who has seen it all, but lets you know that underneath he still holds out hope that some day in some way, right will win out after all. And Connery plays it with a hard, uncompromising edge that makes it so believable, and makes Malone a memorable character. De Palma brings it all vividly to life, building an underlying tension from the beginning that he maintains throughout the film, aided by the intense, sometimes haunting score by Ennio Morricone. Costner gives a solid performance as Ness, but he is somewhat overshadowed by the actors and the characters who surround him, especially Connery as Malone, and Robert De Niro, who as Capone is absolutely menacing and larger-than-life. De Niro captures the ruthlessness that indelibly marked Capone's infamy forever in the annals of criminal history, with a portrayal of him that is arguably the best in cinematic history. De Niro plays it as it lays, presenting Capone as the brutal criminal he was, without attempting to airbrush away any of the attributes that made him so despicable. It's a terrific performance, for which he should have received at least an Oscar nomination.
The supporting cast includes Richard Bradford (Mike), Jack Kehoe (Payne), Brad Sullivan (George), Billy Drago (Nitti) and Patricia Clarkson (Ness' wife). Extremely well crafted and delivered by De Palma, who had a great screenplay (by David Mamet) and a terrific cast with which to work, `The Untouchables' is a powerful, intense film that successfully evokes this particular period in the history of America. And it subtly underscores the true heroics of men like Ness and his crew, who through their fearless dedication possibly made it a little safer for someone to walk down the street, or for an honest man to simply go about the business of making a living-- things too often taken for granted in our busy world today; things that are important, and which makes a film like this so much more than merely entertainment (though it definitely is that). And that's the real magic of the movies. I rate this one 9/10.
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