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should have been much better
HelloTexas1125 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I've been debating how hard to come down on 'The Untouchables' since I watched it again the other day. I don't know anything about the background of the film; whether it was made in a hurry or if there were problems with the production or a lot of re-shooting afterward. All I know is that with all the talent involved and the subject matter chosen, this should have been a masterpiece, a classic along the lines of 'The Godfather' or 'Goodfellas,' but sadly it doesn't even come close. To say it's an enjoyable little film about nabbing Al Capone is damning it with the slightest of praise. I mean, look at the cast. Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia, even Robert De Niro! Can't get much better than that. So it's not them; they do what they can with the material. David Mamet, who wrote the screenplay (or at least gets credit for it), is one of the greatest living American authors. And yet the screenplay is as flat and thin as cardboard. It is almost impossible not to feel that other hands were involved in the story and dialogue; it has practically none of the incisiveness or bite one typically associates with Mamet. The director is Brian De Palma. That's where I'm laying the blame. I have never felt De Palma is the great director some claim him to be and there are many aspects of 'The Untouchables' which reinforce my opinion- multiple examples of shameless audience manipulation and tired clichés. The geeky accountant who becomes a bad-ass during a confrontation and kills a bunch of bad guys. The adoring wife who has one expression, one that says "I love you so much my heart might melt." The old Irish cop who dispenses endless pearls of wisdom and lessons-in-life. The straight-arrow leader who has a personal code he never violates. And all of this is put forward in such a ham-handed fashion; there is no subtlety to anything here. What's even worse is we never really get to know the characters; they are painted so broadly, they never register as anything but stereotypes. But there are SOME good bits in 'The Untouchables.' Mainly Robert De Niro, who is always interesting to watch. His shorthand impersonation of Al Capone strikes me as a throwaway, but it's a good throwaway and he manages to invest a fair amount of menace into the character, behind the fake smile and amiability Capone uses to disarm people. The same can more or less be said about Sean Connery (I can't believe he won an Oscar for this though). Kevin Costner is saddled with perhaps the weakest dialogue as Elliot Ness; the film can never decide who he is or what to do with him. At the beginning, reporters ask Ness, why bother to enforce prohibition? Because it's the law of the land, he says. At the end, they ask him what he'll do if prohibition is repealed. Probably go get a drink, he says. I guess that's supposed to be meaningful and profound. There seems to be no logic to the dialogue or situations. At one point, apropos of nothing, Connery's character leads them on a liquor bust literally on the spur of the moment, with no pre-planning, no explanation of how he knows about it. 'The Untouchables' has a climax of sorts in a railway station, then a courtroom scene which makes no sense at all (how can you switch juries at the END of a trial?). This film consistently disappoints; the fact that it still provides a modicum of entertainment is due mainly to the acting skills of De Niro and Connery.
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It's the Chicago Way
jhclues21 June 2001
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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My Favorite!
MinorityReporter21 September 2005
Quite a few words spring to my mind when I think of The Untouchables. Words like: Excellence, entertainment, larger than life and Sean Connery. These words basically summarize the entire film from my point of view of course because in my opinion (which I don't expect people to agree with) this is the best gangster film there is. Obviously people aren't going to agree because people prefer the likes of the operatic Godfather trilogy or the ultra realistic Goodfellas but in my head The Untouchables is the best.

Here are a few reasons why. First reason is that The Untouchables is just so darn entertaining. All the other films had completely different aims and even though I love a deep and brilliant story my main objective when I see a film is to be entertained and basically no film does that better than The Untouchables. That does not mean, however, that The Untouchables is just some half baked action comedy. No. There is genuine emotion and real story in this film. The story is, as most people know, loosely based on the actual events during the prohibition era in USA in the 1920s (the story is also based very, very loosely on the series that go by the same name) which to some extent means that what we see on the screen is real making the characters and general story seem that much more believable. This also adds greatly to the already very high entertainment value of the film because it draws the audience in. To add to the realism of the film the dialog is also very memorable and there are some great one-liners including some of my all time favorites in this film.

The acting is nothing short of brilliant. This is without a doubt Kevin Costner's best role. Some people have remarked that he seemed stiff and unable to portray the emotion of the character and to that I can only ask: Were we watching the same movie?! He is a hundred percent believable all the way through. In the beginning he seems a bit too much like a square I-wanna-do-some-good kind of character but as the story progresses he really evolves and becomes more and more emotionally involved in what he does. Both in his friends and in the cause. He even bends some of the rules he initially tried so hard to uphold. Brilliant. Charles Martin Smith does a good job as well and even though his character is very limited he still manages to pull the audience in. Andy Garcia appears in this film in a very limited role as well and he serves his purpose brilliantly. He is the sharpshooter of the group and he is perfectly believable in that part. He doesn't get to say much but what he does get to say is said with as much passion as I have ever heard from him (he seemed a little stale and lifeless in Godfather III). Robert DeNiro is great as Al Capone. He steals every scene he is in and he really brings the larger-than-life quality to the character which is extremely fitting. The film's best performance belongs to Sean Connery though. The film is for lack of a better expression a Sean Connery tour-de-force. Not only does he steal every scene he is in but he also brings the certain indescribable something to the character that he always does and in every situation you feel with him (as you do in all his films whether he is a villain or a hero). He also got a well deserved Oscar for his performance. People have claimed that the Oscar wasn't as much for this particular performance but an Oscar in recognition of his contributions to the film industry. This belittles his performance which I can safely say is the best of his career and one of the best displays of acting that I have ever seen.

The film also has a memorable score made by the legendary Ennio Morricone who is perhaps best known for the work he did with the equally legendary western director Sergio Leone (who doesn't know the score from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) and in my opinion the score he did for The Untouchables is the best he has ever made. The score is very unlike most scores from the 80s which does that the film doesn't feel like an 80s film as much as Scarface which I find inferior to this masterpiece. The score is grand and epic just like the story and the effects. For an 80s movie the effects are pretty amazing. Once again everything works.

All in all The Untouchables is a riveting story which is highly recommendable to all fans of crime/gangster movies.

10/10 - on my top 10 of best films
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Almost No Redeeming Qualities
Streetballa17 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I was not expecting this movie to be this bad. With Depalma, De Niro, and what looked to be a huge budget with a story that is already compelling enough in real life, there's no reason to make a film this absent of quality.

You can tell within the first ten minutes of the movie that the score is going to ruin the movie. The music was either cliché (smooth touching melodies in every single last moment of vulnerability in the movie) or "action music" that feels like it belongs in homeward bound, not a crime movie. Music was even put into places where it make absolutely no sense whatsoever. Indeed, it sets the tone for the movie itself, which is a tone of farce more than grit.

This movie just reeks of farce, from the accountant mowing down people with a shotgun with the nerdy grin symbolizing his transformation from mild mannered nerd to empowered bad-ass to the completely arbitrary scene of Robert DeNiro hitting a guy with a baseball bat (no back story,no plot movement, seemingly no reason for it to be in the movie whatsoever)to Sean Connery getting blasted with seemingly dozens of machine gun bullets, bleeding enough to have died three times over, and yet still having the power to gasp a few more words just as Elliot Ness gets there before finally dying. This movie is filled with enough corny commercial movie tricks and clichés that it just cannot be taken seriously. This is not a bad thing if you're making a Disney movie, but when you're making a crime drama, (especially one based on real life) realism is probably the way you want to go.

This is not even to take into consideration the awful acting throughout the movie. This actually may be why the movie so heavily relies on cheesy music. The actor's performances were so weak that it required cheesy music to make them look better. Kevin Costner is just not a great actor and none of the supporting cast is exactly Daniel-Day Lewis. Sean Connery won an academy award for his performance somehow. I suppose his acting may have not been particularly bad, but his character seemed so manufactured and out of step with reality that he simply couldn't be taken seriously. Maybe in a completely fictitious story it would have worked, but again, not in a story based on real people and real events.

If you want to see a farce that tries to be serious, every movie cliché in the book (this is no exaggeration, just look for them) an out of place and overdone score, and substandard acting, then this is the movie for you. I somehow doubt, though, that the target audience for this movie were movie watchers who enjoyed this type of film. Take out the violence and this movie belongs next to Pete's Dragon on the movie shelf. It's a disgrace to Al Capone and Elliot Ness both and to anyone who likes good movies.
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Brian De Palma's Masterpiece
jcanettis30 January 2005
"The Untouchables" is in my opinion De Palma's greatest work, with his other masterpiece, namely "Scarface", coming a very close second. In "Scarface" the focus is on a paranoid and self-destructive gangster who rises to meteoric heights and then falls; in "The Untouchables" the focus is on a very honest man with a noble mission, Elliot Ness (Kostner), who is prepared to do anything to clean Chicago from the corruption and mayhem caused by the notorious gangster Al Capone (De Niro). His quest is really tough, as his opponent is determined and powerful, but he has the help of three invaluable partners: Malone (Connery), a no-nonsense experienced cop, Wallace (Martin Smith), an accountant who will try to help bring tax charges against Capone, and Stone (Garcia), a great shooter.

As I noted before the film is brilliantly directed, with some scenes such as the one with the baseball bat, or the one with the baby in the train station, having become classic. The acting is superb, and while Connery was the one who received his well-deserved Oscar, Kostner and De Niro made Oscar-class performances too.

Although belonging to a typical genre, this film certainly stands out. Don't miss it! 10/10.
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Few Films Can Touch Its Excellence.
tfrizzell31 July 2002
Outstanding production that was the best film of 1987 with the exception of the very dominant "The Last Emperor". "The Untouchables" is the story of Elliot Ness (perfectly played by Kevin Costner) who tries to bring down Chicago Mob boss Al Capone (Robert DeNiro in one of his most under-rated roles) during the early-1930s. Illegal liquor smuggling and other much more serious crimes are running amok and corruption is all over. Costner realizes very fast that he must hand-pick his own men to bring DeNiro down for good. Thus he enlists the help of a young cop from the academy (Andy Garcia), a wimpy book-keeper (Charles Martin Smith) and a hard-nosed Irish beat cop (Oscar-winner Sean Connery in the performance of a lifetime). Together they slowly start to peel through the multiple layers of protection to get DeNiro for good. It seems that the fact that DeNiro has been lax in paying his income taxes could be his ultimate downfall. Beautifully directed by Brian De Palma, "The Untouchables" stands very tall with the other great productions of the 1980s. Ennio Morricone's Oscar-nominated score is one of the finest the cinema has ever experienced. Really excellent. I have no negative comments on this production. 5 stars out of 5.
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Never stop fighting till the fight is done, here endeth the lesson.
Spikeopath4 March 2008
As good a gangster movie that has ever been made as DePalma does justice to Mamet's electric script. The acting on show is right out of the top draw, the inevitable ease that DeNiro puts menace into Capone is quite impressive, whilst the fresh faced pugnacious tenacity of Andy Garcia's George Stone is something of a delightful experience. Yet that is not enough because we still need the central actors to carry the film if it is going to triumph. Connery is a given performance wise (accent aside of course, but then again who cares when the character portrayal is as sharp as it is here?) but it is Costner as Eliot Ness that shines like the star he was soon to become, it's a magic performance that manages to fuse genuine tenderness of family love with little trips to the dark side in pursuit of making good triumph over evil.

I love that the film is showing how violence and fear affects families, mother and child is a theme that is central to the film's heartbeat, notice how some of the more violent scenes are followed by tender scenes of Ness and his family. The set pieces here are attention grabbing entertainment, a roaring Canadian border rumpus and a smashing roof top pursuit and face off are top value, but it's DePalma gold watching a brilliant Battleship Potemkin homage at the Union train station that takes the cake as the film enters its last quarter. Surely historical facts does not matter when films are as sharp as this one is? It's frightening, touching, and even witty. So for me at least, the film is 10/10 in every department (and yes, even with Sean's accent).

Footnote: The academy saw fit to nominate Ennio Morricone for his wonderful score, yet strangely he used some of it for the main theme in John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing, they must have missed it that time I presume! Must be the genre angle one thinks....
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Honourable flashback to the classic film-noirs from the 30's to the 60's.
nzswanny13 August 2017
If you are like me and like a good film-noir or two then I recommend you watch this film which plays out exactly like a film-noir, with camera work, angles, lighting and editing all perfectly suiting the polished and straight-forward style of the genre. The Untouchables is a movie that contains clichés from the genre but uses them to it's own intentional advantage and if this film were in black-and- white I would of believed that it truly was a movie brilliantly created around the 40's. Some do not like style over substance and that's okay, but in order to warn some viewers I will state that this is more of a visual feat in terms of experience, but myself I don't necessarily consider style over substance a bad thing and I have actually created a strong respect for films simply having good cinematography and editing. The editing flows the film all together in the traditional film-noir manner, comprehending the film into an understandable experience and never losing grip of it's tone because of the good editing. Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Robert De Niro star as the main characters and all deliver performances worthy of the film, both expressing their characters realistically and in a style fully according to the film-noir genre. If this all sounds good to you, then why not give it a watch?
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Al Capone's arrest, in a romanticized way.
filipemanuelneto14 February 2017
This film takes place during the Prohibition, the golden age of American Mafia, and shows the difficulties that law enforcement ​​had to arrest Al Capone, Chicago's biggest mafia boss. Brian de Palma seems to have a powerful attraction for violence and the mafia, this being his second major film on the subject (the first, if I'm not mistaken, was "Scarface"), but there is no doubt that his work was good and deserves congratulations. The story is told from the point of view of law enforcement, which is a novelty since most of the films that focus on Al Capone tend to show his life, or moments of his criminal course. This film shows him as the big villain he was and glorifies police officers, easily transforming Eliott Ness (played brilliantly by Kevin Costner in one of the most interesting works of his career) into a paladin of justice and law. Robert De Niro revisits his gangster movies ("The Godfather", "Goodfellas" etc.) in a curious and comic interpretation of Al Capone, and Sean Connery plays a street policeman of Irish descent. In fact, it was precisely in this character that Connery got his only Oscar, despite all actors have fulfilled my expectations. The film is well constructed, looking to alternate epic action scenes (sometimes recalling in my mind the glory of cavalry battle charges) with moments of great psychological depth and some suspense. At times, however, the film seems a bit forced, with exaggerated appeals to sentimentality, as it does in the final sequence, often parodied or imitated in later films. Another problem with the film is that it is not faithful to historical events. Al Capone's arrest was not like that, nor was Ness behind it. The film contains some scenes of great violence and is inadvisable for children, adolescents and impressionable people.
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Brilliantly and stylishly recreated story about Elliot Ness and Al'Scarface'Capone
ma-cortes2 March 2009
This splendid film is set during Prohibition era Chicago in the 30s. Elliot Ness(Kevin Costner) gets the government's go-ahead to form his own particular group of relentless, honest Federal Agents(Sean Connery,Charles Martin Smith,Andy Garcia) to combat Al Capone(Robert De Niro) and his hoodlums, specially Frank Nitti(Billy Drago).Ness reunites honorable, upright cops to fight corruption and the grandiose mobster. It leads in forays against the racketeers, bootleggers enemies. At the beginning they fail miserably and the crusader anti-alcohol cops bust out, though finally scores.

This is a violence-ridden story full of action, drama, thriller and pretty entertaining.Intelligent and suspenseful script by David Mamet(Pulitzer winning playwright).Spectacular shootém up on the station steps remains with echoes of 'The battleship Potemkin'(Sergei Einstein,1925). Kevin Costner is excellent as impulsive and obstinate enforcer fighting against the underworld crime .Sean Connery(Academy-award winning acting) plays to perfection a veteran, incorruptible police who takes under his experience and protection to Ness.And Robert De Niro overacting in a serio-comic role as the nasty Capone.Flamboyant and rich photography by Stephen H Burum. Sensible and emotive musical score by the master Ennio Morricone. The motion picture is beautifully directed by Brian De Palma.This superb recounting will like immensely to Kevin Costner and Sean Connery fans.

Another adaptations about Capone are mostly realized for television, such as ¨The Scarface mob(1962)¨by Phil Karlson with Robert Stack and Neville Brand and ¨Elliot Ness¨with Tom Amandes and William Forshyte.
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The sum of its good individual components, no more
Flagrant-Baronessa25 December 2006
Director Brian De Palma is the son of a surgeon, and perhaps this explains his high tolerance for the bloodshed that has translated into brutal, raw scenes in 'The Untouchables'. Then again, this film is set during one of the bloodiest chapters of American history and demands unflinching depiction accordingly. Zooming in on prohibition-era Chicago, a dirty, dingy, crime-infested retreat of mafia, the film lets us know a special unit headed by Kevin Costner whose objective is to frame the super villain himself – Al Capone (Robert De Niro).

There are, in effect, three or four things that truly stand out about The Untouchables–an otherwise standard crime by-the-numbers romp–and at least one of them should be attributed to the surface of the spectacle; the costumework and settings are superbly breathed life into, as is De Palma's accolade, with a screen that is awash with lyrical colours and accompanied by a swelly, jazzy moonlit music score. Another worthy accolade is of course Sean Connery as detective Malone – an American-Irish cop on the beat and down with the ways of the street – who may deliver one of the worst accents in film history, but makes up for what he lacks in verbal power with heaps of charisma. Malone is given, by far, the best dialogue in David Mamet's script as when he instructs Kevin Costner on how to get to Capone: "He puts one of yours in the hospital, you put one of his in the morgue."

Another worthy staple to The Untouchables is its strong individual scenes. In the front row for these sits the notorious baseball bat scene in which a furious Al Capone beats one of his associates' head into a bloody pulp with a bat, right in front of all the guests at the grand dinner table. Robert De Niro gained weight for his role as the crime-lord Al Capone and approaches his character with commitment, but sadly he is ineffective in the film as De Palma does not quite know what to do with him. Instead he craggily intercuts Capone's boisterous speeches and monologues with the template storyline of Kevin Costner's special unit, and the former are incongruous to the key story of 'The Untouchables'. Here it regrettably becomes apparent that the film possesses all the necessary ingredients but no blender in which to stir it – and De Palma is largely to blame for lacking the necessary skill.

Having said that, The Untouchables keeps up the appearance of an epic crime film so rigorously through seamless costumes, stinky Chicago accents, vivid chases and a swarming taste to its sets that for a long time we are led to believe that De Palma has truly done it with this film. Certainly there are many scenes that testify to this and aptly camoflauge the shortcomings, such as the suspenseful pre-battle sequence at the Canadian border in which the Western-loving Costner is up on horseback to ambush the incoming shipment. Another is the first meeting between Andy Garcia and Sean Connery, in which the latter decides to recruit Garcia's Italian character in spite of racial feuding (Connery's supposed to be Irish), and instead because he likes his mouthy, bold attitude. Finally there is the unspeakably epic climax scene that plays on operatic in length through a long, glorious slow-motion capture by a staircase, politely nodding to The Battleship Potemkin's 'Odessa Steps Sequence'.

The whole film is in fact an operatic affair with technicalities deluxe. With its mindboggling ensemble (Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia and Patricia Clarkson) it is easy to see how it is cuing us in to like it. To some extent it succeeds well, for it is suspenseful, but it is not well sewn-together. What good is a De Niro if you are not going to use him opposite the rest? What good is a Kevin Costner (who has never looked so ridiculously handsome in his career for that matter) if you are not going to let him emote? And lastly, what good is a large handful of fully-fledged wonderful scenes if you are not going to juxtapose them with something, instead of dishing them out every now and then to keep our interest?

7 out of 10
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Cool mobster movie based on a true story
Xophianic2 February 2000
I watched the Untouchables know a little about Elliot Ness and Al Capone. I wasn't watching the Untouchables for the educations part, though. I was just hoping for an entertaining movie. That is what I got. I thought the Untouchables movie was very interesting with some great gunfights and a good story.

For the most part, the acting was very good in this movie. Robert DeNiro was frighteningly good as Al Capone, and Kevin Costner did a great job as Elliot Ness. I believe, however, that Sean Connery stole the show as Jim Malone, the tough old cop who knew in order to beat the crime you had to resort to their level.

The story is simple. Elliot Ness, a "cop" from the treasury department of the FBI is sent to make sure that Al Capone is brought to justice, but has trouble doing so. He seeks the help of Jim Malone, a worn-out beat cop, and a few others to take Capone out. They realize they have to stoop down to the level of the criminals in order to stop them, which of course leads to some cool gun fights and an interesting trial.

For a Kevin Costner movie, it's not very long. I'd recommend you go out and rent this movie. I found it to be very good.
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Dick_Starky18 February 2005
It's Prohibition-era Chicago, and mob boss Al Capone (Robert De Niro) controls the illegal shipment of alcohol into the city. Federal Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), vows to bring him down. Assembling a crack squad consisting of: Seasoned Cop Jimmy Maloy (Sean Connery), dead-eyed rookie George Stone (Andy Garcia), and bookish Accountant Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith). It is with this simple story that spawns a beautifully crafted piece of film-making. Sean Connery gives a compelling performance as Maloy; he's dedicated, determined, and dangerous. Kevin Costner is great as a man, just out to "Do Some Good". And Finally, you can't forget Robert De Niro. It must be his general calm that's so unnerving about him, as if you never know what he'll do next. I would definitely recommend this movie to anyone who likes movies. This movie had me on the brink of tears, had me standing up and cheering, and had me deeply satisfied and entertained.

My Final Rating: 10 out of 10 - A Must See!
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"Untouchable" - True Gangster Greatness
dee.reid11 March 2005
I'm going to make this short and to the point:

To me, Eliot Ness and the Untouchables were true patriots, fighting to end corruption wherever it reared its ugly head. With that in mind, 1987's "The Untouchables" is one of the greatest gangster movies - period. Brian De Palma, coming down off of the landmark gangster classic "Scarface" (1983), continued the trend with this carefully woven tale (screenplay complements of David Mamet) about Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner, perfectly cast) and his band of incorruptible federal agents. Ness is as naive as they come - bright-eyed and ready to take gangsterism down the "old" way - but being that this is Prohibition-era Chicago, the police are on the take, and no one can be trusted for fear of retribution from Al Capone (Robert De Niro). Ness finds his most trusted and loyal partner in a beat officer, Jimmy Malone (Oscar-Winner Sean Connery), who so carefully spells the law out out for him, "He {Capone} sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!" The Untouchables certainly do seem to overstep their boundaries in bringing Capone down, using a number of well-planned and law-bending tactics. The cinematography is beautiful, helping to capture the gangster-era in all its glory, and the Ennio Morricone score really gets you pumping for the action. De Palma is at his greatest in directorial excellence in staging stellar, heart-pumping action sequences (with the Morricone score blasting away too), which come to include the Canadian liquor bust, the train-station shootout, and the ending rooftop chase between Ness and Capone's #1 hit-man Frank Nitti (Billy Drago). Beware though, since this is De Palma territory here, we should be on the lookout for some scenes of pretty stylized bloody violence and the blood + guts action that characterized the times. Still, "The Untouchables" is one of my top 10 "must-see" pictures and I'm sure it's essential viewing for any gangster movie aficionado.

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Crime Thriller.
SameirAli28 February 2017
An officer decides to hunt down the untouchable alcohol king Al Capone. He was very confident in his moves. But, he learned that he can trust no one in the force. Then he decides to team up with 3 other officers and go for the adventure. It is obvious that they had to face the consequences.

This film is one of the best crime thrillers. Well made from the great director Brian De Palma. Negative role from Robert De Niro, he was excellent. Sean Connery's role was also remarkable. He won Oscar for his role.

A must watch. Highly recommended.

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Great stuff
Gudhjem29 March 1999
An absolute classic. These three words describe this masterpiece. De Palma and his supreme cast give us what we want. An intense drama about good and bad. A towering performance by Connery as an Irish-American cop with a Scottish accent stand out but Costner, De Niro and the rest of the cast, down to the baby in the Potemkin inspired scene at the train station, deliver great performances. Another reason for loving this movie is, that it is full of really bad editing mistakes. The best one being the roof top scene, where Ness helps Niiti to his car. If you haven't seen it I feel sorry for you. Whether you rent it, or buy doesn't matter. But it is a MUST SEE!
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Fun Movie, Though Don't Expect A Documentary!
Hancock_the_Superb24 September 2005
When I was 11 or 12, I thought that this was the coolest movie ever made. And why not? It had some great action scenes, extremely good heroes, and extremely nasty villains. On that level, the film is perfect. Now that I'm a bit older, I still enjoy the film a lot, just not as much as I used to. It certainly isn't on my top ten list.

In the 1930's, Prohibition is in full swing, and Chicago mob boss Al Capone (Robert De Niro) rules over his empire with bombs, bribes, and machine guns. Since Prohibition is very unpopular with the American people, who's going to stand up to Capone? Enter straight-laced young Treasury Agent Elliot Ness (Kevin Costner), who wants to do the right thing but realizes that the methods required are much more unorthodox, what with the corrupt police department and all. He enlists the help of an aging beat cop (Sean Connery in an Oscar-winning performance), a nebbish accountant (Charles Martin Smith) and a young police cadet who's a crack shot with a pistol (Andy Garcia) and begins taking down Capone "the Chicago way". After many shootouts, liquor raids, and assassinations, it all comes down to a climactic showdown - on the roof of a crowded courthouse! - between Ness and Capone's chief henchman, Frank Nitti (Billy Drago).

The movie is, as has been pointed out, much more faithful to the original television series with Robert Stack than the historical record, of which it bears virtually no resemblance, not that that is necessarily a problem. In real life, there were up to a dozen "Untouchables", whose success was very limited, and never got into any actual shootouts with Capone (though Capone did try to kill Ness himself on at least two occasions). Capone thought of Ness as a publicity seeking nuisance, nothing more; the two never even met face-to-face. Frank Wilson and the IRS had a LOT more to do with Capone's indictment than Ness and the Untouchables ever did. And of course Frank Nitti lived for over a decade after Capone was jailed.

That being said: who cares? This was intended as a fun, classy action movie, not a historical documentary. The movie is extremely authentic in attention to period detail, and though a bit over-the-top, it succeeds in its primary objective: to entertain. The movie was meant as a cross between a classy gangster film and a good old-fashioned cops'n'robbers shoot-'em-up, and was highly successful at that.

The acting is great all around, with Costner and Connery in particular giving one of their best performances. Costner does a creditable job at making Ness go from a greenhorn do-gooder (the scene where he yells at the corpse of a gangster he's had to kill is one of the movie's few weak moments) to a tough, hard-assed veteran in a little over two hours, no mean feat. Connery does a great job as Malone, the aging, guilt-ridden cop who becomes Ness's mentor (though his death scene is a bit overdone, I must admit I actually cried the first time I saw it!). Garcia and Smith have somewhat less to do, though each have their moments (Smith sipping bootleg whiskey during the bridge ambush, and Garcia's initial confrontation with Ness and Malone). De Niro, who made a career playing gangsters, takes the logical step of playing THE single most famous gangster of all time, Al Capone, and DeNiro, Method actor that he is, does a great job managing to look, sound, and act the part, despite very limited screen time (does ANYONE come away from this film not remembering the infamous baseball scene?). Drago fits the part of a sneering, one-dimensional villain, and manages to make Nitti a menacing and even charismatic character despite having little to work with. Other talented character actors - Richard Bradford, Jack Kehoe, Patricia Clarkson, Brad Sullivan, Del Close, Clifford James - round out the cast.

Where the movie excels, however, are its action sequences. The ambush of Capone's bootleg convoy at the Canadian border is simply exhilarating, and the suspenseful rooftop shootout between Ness and Nitti is extremely memorable as well. But what steals the show is the wonderfully done "Potemkin" homage in Union Station, where Ness and Stone try to apprehend Capone's book keeper, take out his bodyguards, AND save a baby carriage pluming down the stairs. Virtually the whole scene is done in slow motion, and is indescribably intense and even beautiful.

Ennio Morricone provides a wonderful score, and I'm not sure why he dislikes it so much, as he's said in interviews. True, it's not up to par with his works for Sergio Leone's films, but what is? He provides an exhilarating, heroic score which captures the feel and tone of the movie perfectly (though for my money, the heartbreaking "Death Theme", played on solo saxophone, is the best track).

Overall, "The Untouchables" is NOT a great gangster film, like "The Godfather" or "Once Upon A Time In America", nor is it an accurate account of the real-life events it portrays. But it's a fun, extremely stylish, well-made and enjoyable film, and on that score, I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

Score: 8/10.
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Very well-made gangster thriller, with the usual "show-off" De Palma flourishes.
barnabyrudge1 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The Untouchables is a well-made, well-acted gangster story from director Brian (Scarface) De Palma. One thing you can virtually always guarantee from a De Palma movie is flamboyance, and this is no exception. Not content with a compelling story, the director has thrown in a series of his typically bravura set pieces, the best of which is a truly outstanding railway station shootout.

Treasury agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) is working in Prohibition-era Chicago when he realises that a fair bit of crime, particularly bootlegging, is going unnoticed. Most of the city cops either haven't realized it's happening or have chosen to turn a blind eye. Ness soon learns that the criminal underworld is controlled by ruthless gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro), who men on both sides of the law fear to tackle. Aided by a trusty band of three loyal pals, Irish cop Malone (Sean Connery), suave George Stone (Andy Garcia), and reliable Oscar Wallace (C.M Smith), Ness wages war on Capone and his gangland cronies. While other law enforcers pretend nothing is going on, Ness and his men swoop into action against the smugglers, bootleggers, and gunmen terrorising the city streets. Capone is not pleased - he turns his attention to stamping out these troublesome law enforcers who have put a dent in his lucrative criminal empire.

Unsurprisingly, the acting here is high-class. Costner does what's required as Ness, but Connery and De Niro go a few steps further. Connery's experienced Irish cop is a wonderful role (indeed, the role which deservedly won the big Scot his only Oscar), while De Niro demonstrates how to portray evilness as only he can (his baseball bat slaying of an associate is shocking and disturbing in the extreme). Also memorable is Billy Drago as Capone's most psychopathic henchman Frank Nitti (not only does he get some powerful scenes; he also dies the most extraordinary death in the whole film). De Palma provides numerous flashy sequences, including a smuggling raid on the US-Canadian border, the rooftop skirmish between Ness and Nitti, and the afore-mentioned railway sequence. Ennio Morricone's music score is exciting and well-suited to the events on screen. There are occasional misjudgements, like Connery's ludicrously prolonged slaying (any more bullets and he's be a walking hunk of lead) and some slushy "family" interludes with Ness which are intended to show his loving, caring side but which only interfere with the proceedings. On the whole, though, The Untouchables is a fine movie which probably represents De Palma's best work of the '80s.
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Were we watching the same movie?
senninha706 August 2002
I don't understand how on earth this movie gets a 7.8 rating. It's terrible! I've always been interested in Capone and the gangsters of the 30's, but this movie has the worst direction I've ever seen. It's pretty... they did a good job with the cars, outfits, locations, etc., but the dialogue is laughable and the way the story was crafted left nothing to suspense. I understand that they had limits because it was an account of a true story, but they still could have told us certain things and saved some things for later. The way the little mousy guy kept referring to his tax problems... we all know that's how they brought him down, but they gave that away in the first 20 minutes! And the music... terrible! I actually perked up when I saw Ennio Morricone's name at the beginning because I loved his work in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". But the director never used it to build suspense. They didn't build any dramatic scenes with it, and when they did, he used all the wrong music.

I am terribly disappointed with this movie. I want my two hours of life back. I've seen better documentaries on the Discovery Channel, and if I really want to learn anything, I'll take one of the tours here in Chicago.
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Terrible disappointment.
KeyserSoze267 March 2006
This movie was horrible and I don't understand what all the fuss is about. I heard that it was supposed to be something great (having Robert De Niro as Al Capone seemed very fitting, but he only had about 10 minutes of screen time.) Far too much time was spent focused on Ness and his wife, which I saw as totally irrelevant to the story. Also, Kevin Costner's acting was terrible, as always; Ness' 'team' was extremely lame, and the scene with the baby on the staircase was just asinine. Malone's death was the most ridiculous overly dramatic death scene I have ever seen and was to this movie what Billy Preston's "You Are So Beautiful" was to Carlito's Way: The rock-bottom part of the film; (except for the fact that Carlito's Way was actually halfway decent compared to this hyped up garbage they call a 'good film'). I don't know anyone who's seen this movie, let alone liked it, but I would like to seriously ask anyone who has how they could ever watch this and enjoy it.
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billcr1217 May 2018
Somehow, I just got around to this film after over thirty years. Kevin Costner plays the federal agent Elliot Ness. He pursues Al Capone during Prohibition. His main partner is Sean Connery as a Beat cop in 1930 Chicago. Robert DeNiro is Capone and all three are great. Connery won an Oscar. Ironically, it was tax evasion that was Capone's downfall. This is not a spoiler, as everyone knows the old story. Even so, the Untouchables is a violent and funny adventure. The script is precise and Brian DePalma's direction is as good as expected; never a dull moment. The two hours just flies by.
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climbingtiger9578 December 2016
one of my favourite films of all time ,not sure how close to the truth it is but don't really care ,ive seen documentaries on this subject and they all conflict ,so just sit back and enjoy.Costner's out to get the city under control from the brilliant de'niro who plays Capone,and appears untouchable.he recruits a few hand picked hard men with no real families and not a lot to loose ,including Andy Garcia ,cheeky sharpshooter with no fear ,and Sean Connery as a hard faced beat cop who's not afraid of upsetting anyone.Costner plays Elliot ness as a calm no nonsense cop with balls of steel .the movie oozes atmosphere ,combined with action and some memorable scenes ,look out for baby ,pram,Garcia sharpshooter scene ,it makes my hair stand on'niros Capone is faultless,you just wanna shoot him in the head and wipe the smile of his chops.anyway grab a few drinks ,some popcorn and just enjoy ,its great.
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Making The Most Of Blood, Smoke, And Fedoras
slokes21 May 2013
At the heart of the matter, "The Untouchables" is a comic book put on screen: Its characters are one-dimensional; its storyline abounds with convenience and cliché. But the full commitment of its principals on both sides of the camera makes this riveting all the same.

Chicago in 1930 is a "city at war." A gang boss named Al Capone (Robert De Niro) holds court in a barber chair, explaining he is only supplying a need. "What is bootlegging? On a boat, it's bootlegging. On Lake Shore Drive, it's hospitality." But Prohibition is the law of the land, and when Capone's ways of breaking that law include blowing up buildings and killing little girls, it's time for U. S. Treasury Agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) to step in.

Director Brian De Palma was slumming when he made this film, according to a DVD documentary. Maybe that was the secret; he didn't press so hard. The film exists as a series of set pieces, much like other De Palma films, and the attention to stylistic visuals and atmospherics are there. But this time he lets the story breathe a bit more, giving you something to care about or laugh at between what amounts to an exhausting amount of carnage.

How bloody is this film? There's one cast member listed in the credits as "Gunned Head." Good luck finding him, too.

Iconography is everything in De Palma films. Here he not only quotes from other directors, but develops some iconography of his own, like a famous moment when Capone expounds at length about his love for baseball and another when Ness is told about "The Chicago Way" by an older cop named Malone (Sean Connery): "He sends one of yours to the hospital, you sent one of his to the morgue." One shootout scene in a railroad terminal managed to both quote a famous film ("The Battleship Potemkin") and become uniquely famous on its own.

The body count is matched only by the cliché count. Every pavement is slick with rain. A dying man imparts important information to a friend with his last breath. A couple of bottles happen to be standing on a building ledge just so they can explode in sequence in the middle of a gun battle. Ness actually tells someone he'll see Capone in hell.

Many reviewers here criticize Kevin Costner as Ness. Actually, I think some of them criticize Costner as Costner, which would be fine with me except for the fact he's very good here playing Ness as unblinking straight arrow with a touch of vulnerability. Connery won an Oscar for his role here, and while he's quite good, I think Costner delivers a better performance. He has to stand up to the star power of both Connery and De Niro and does so, allowing them the big moments their characters require but keeping himself at the center throughout. I even like Costner's smaller moments here, like eating a sandwich and trying to make small talk with a young cop during a stakeout.

I do wonder why screenwriter David Mamet has him talking like a robot at times, but I like how Mamet keeps the story focused on the action, which De Palma supplies brilliantly. There's some questioning of the wisdom of cracking down on something as uncontrollable as people drinking booze, and even a darker thread involving Ness's being tempted to pursue extra-legal methods in pursuit of his aims. Still, when you have such wonderful bad guys as De Niro's Capone and Billy Drago's ultra-creepy button man Frank Nitti, it's hard to stop and ponder the deeper philosophy at work, which is part of "The Untouchables'" strength. You just want to see these guys die nasty.

Also great in this movie is the music by Ennio Morricone, which stirs you up before you see a single character and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end. Yes, there's something simplistic at the heart of "The Untouchables," but it works so well I was left wondering if that stripped-down quality isn't the secret of its success.
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Where all the stars aligned
garylukas21 January 2018
I'm not sure if there was some funny business or early trolling going on back around 2005/06 but all of a sudden a certain number of members started rating this movie 1/10 in an effort to get it out of the IMDB top 250. I don't understand this directed and purposeful hate for the movie.

I know that De Palma can be a little polarizing for some people but this is one of his most mainstream and conventional movies. He directed it mostly how Mamet wrote it. Some reviews say that the dialogue is laughable? That is not what most film students would agree with as it was written by David Mamet, the king of dialogue. This film has some of the best and most memorable lines in film. If you want real dialogue, watch Mamet's 'Glengarry Glen Ross'. Perfection!

I saw someone else criticize the music score. WTF! This music score won the legendary Ennio Morricone a Grammy and an Oscar nomination, following his other nominated scores for The Mission & Once Upon a Time in America. Personally, I love this score and have the soundtrack on cd. I think it's one of the best of the 80s alongside Once Upon a Time & The Mission. Incidentally, The Mission score was originally used on the first trailer as he hadn't completed the soundtrack at the time.

Others criticize Connery's accent. OK, that was the running joke at the time, but anyone who knows Connery's work knows he sounds the same in all his movies ('The Hunt for Red October' anyone?) and takes nothing away from his Best Supporting Actor Oscar win.

Most reviews love this movie and I'm one of them. For me, the stars aligned on every level. The brilliance of Brian De Palma, the music of Ennio Morricone, the costumes and sets, the look and style, and the performances from all the cast. Costner more than holds his own as lead after surprising everyone with his energetic performance in the previous years espionage thriller 'No Way Out'. Andy Garcia put himself on the map bigtime and of course De Niro brilliantly portrays Capone in what is a small but vital role. Personally, Billy Drago is an unsung hero of mine growing up in the 80s and was great that he was rewarded with a memorable bad guy role in a big budget movie for once. If you're a student of 80s movies you'll recognize him portraying villains' in many movies like, Pale Rider, Vamp, Hunter's Blood and Invasion USA.

I don't know! I think some people like to hate on Brian De Palma because it was trendy to at some point. No real substance to it other than the fact that De Palma was an outspoken fan of Hitchcock and didn't hide that fact. So critics labeled him as a hack, which I don't agree with. I love most of De Palma's work, like, Carrie, Dressed to Kill, Body Double, Scarface, Carlito's Way, Casualties of War, Blow Out, Mission Impossible and of course The Untouchables.

Time has proven that this is a classic! So this is why I'm upgrading my score of 9/10 to 10/10.
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My brief review of the film
sol-23 January 2005
A perfect rendition of events is created in the film, thanks to excellent costumes and art direction, and a very well researched screenplay. Superb music by Ennio Morricone and excellent cinematography provide the film with an exciting epic swoop without ruining its historical credibility. Sean Connery, in a role he won an Oscar for, Kevin Costner, and Robert De Niro, in a brilliant realisation of Al Capone, are all in top form. If being nit-picky one might fault the film in over-glorifying Eliot Ness, but that hardly subtracts from this exciting, excellently filmed experience, which has both style and substance.
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