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The Untouchables (1987)

Action & Adventure movie directed by Brian De Palma

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In the way of flaws, it almost lives up to its title.

  • May 14, 2003
  • by
The Untouchables has made most lists of the greatest films ever made, and for good reason. Paramount has released a DVD film of the film as part of their Widescreen Collection (originally enormously over-priced at $29.99; now re-priced to $19.99). The Untouchables easily makes my best films ever made list, and the DVD isn't so bad either.


Loosely based on the old 60's TV show (which was loosely based on the book by Eliot Ness, which was, in turn, a true story), the film places Kevin Costner in his best performance as federal agent Eliot Ness. In 1930s Chicago, during the Prohibition era, crime and corruption are at an all-time high. The mob underworld is ruled by seemingly unstoppable gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro). So how do you stop the crime? You take out the Big Man - and the big man just happens to be Capone.

So Eliot Ness handpicks a group of dedicated men (Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia, and a great performance by Sean Connery) and then sets out to take Capone down.

As mentioned before, Costner and Connery are great, and the rest of the cast is really good as well. Brian De Palma's direction is perfect, and this is very likely his best film. There is another masterpiece score from Ennio Morricone. So what could be wrong?

For the first time ever, De Niro is the film's let-down. De Niro as Al Capone is a great opportunity to let his talent shine - but it doesn't. And it's not completely De Niro's fault; the script's use of Capone is minimal and uninteresting. [9/10]


The DVD's picture quality is great! At times, the picture is a little light, and if you squint really really hard, you may be able to pick up some grain. But all in all, the picture quality is very satisfying. [9/10]


Other than the film itself, the DVD's true highlight is its sound. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround mix not only heightens the films impact, but it truly brings out the brilliance in Ennio Morricone's score. [10/10]


Oh, boy. This is where the DVD's grade goes down. Let's see what we have for extras:
- Theatrical Trailer
Uh-oh. They could have done a lot better with the extras than that. With the film's popularity and all, I think I see a big Special Edition on the way in the near future. [1/10]

All in all, the presentation of the film is great, but as far as the extras go, this DVD sucks.



THE FILM: [9/10] Excellent movie.
THE VIDEO: [9/10] Great job.
THE AUDIO: [10/10] Ennio Morricone has never sounded so great.
THE EXTRAS: [1/10] A trailer. Woo-hoo, that'll last us thirty seconds.
OVERALL SCORE: [7/10] Worth buying for fans of the film or DVD collectors, but otherwise, it's probably best to just wait for a Special Edition.

- Thomas Benton

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More The Untouchables (1987) reviews
Quick Tip by . September 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
On the surface "The Untouchables" is a cool, slick, stylish and gritty period crime thriller has a top-notch cast stellar direction and an Oscar worthy score. However, sadly, beneath the surface the film is all style and no substance, it lacks any real depth of character or sense of direction. It felt as if the whole film for its 1hr.59mins was on autopilot and you are along for the ride. Nicely done but it could have been so much more.
review by . October 09, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
It remains for others far better qualified than I am to comment on this film's historical authenticity. The fact remains, as so capably directed by Brian De Palma, it offers compelling entertainment as Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) and his associates eventually obtain the indictment and conviction of their nemesis, Al Capone (Robert De Niro). How ironic that one of the most ruthless and brutal of underworld figures should eventually be sent to federal prison for tax evasion. Although not an epic, this …
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Tom Benton ()
Ranked #353
Aspiring high school English teacher with dreams of filmmaking and a strong taste for music.
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As noted critic Pauline Kael wrote, the 1987 box-office hitThe Untouchablesis "like an attempt to visualize the public's collective dream of Chicago gangsters." In other words, this lavish reworking of the vintage TV series is a rousing potboiler from a bygone era, so beautifully designed and photographed--and so craftily directed by Brian De Palma--that the historical reality of Prohibition-era Chicago could only pale in comparison. From a script by David Mamet, the movie pits four underdog heroes (the maverick lawmen known as the Untouchables) against a singular villain in Al Capone, played by Robert De Niro as a dapper caesar holding court (and a baseball bat) against any and all challengers. Kevin Costner is the naive federal agent Eliot Ness, whose lack of experience is tempered by the streetwise alliance of a seasoned Chicago cop (Sean Connery, in an Oscar-winning performance), a rookie marksman (Andy Garcia), and an accountant (Charles Martin Smith) who holds the key to Capone's potential downfall. The movie approaches greatness on the strength of its set pieces, such as the siege near the Canadian border, the venal ambush at Connery's apartment, and the train-station shootout partially modeled after the "Odessa steps" sequences of the Russian classicBattleship Potemkin. It's thrilling stuff, fueled by Ennio Morricone's dynamic score, but it's also manipulative and obvious. If you're inclined to be critical, the movie gives you reason to complain. If you'd rather sit ...
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Director: Brian De Palma
Genre: Action, Adventure
DVD Release Date: January 16, 2001
Runtime: 119 minutes
Studio: Paramount
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