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REVIEW: The Untouchables (1987)

The Untouchables Review

The Untouchables is a film that has garnered a great deal of acclaim over the years, and yet if I’ve ever seen it, I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t remember it.

The Untouchables (1987) was directed by Brian De Palma and stars Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness, a treasury agent who recruits a group of fellow cops and agents to take down mob boss Al Capone (Robert De Niro) in Prohibition-era Chicago, with Ness and his agents soon becoming known as the “untouchables” after refusing large bribes. Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith make up the rest of the Untouchables.

The Untouchables Review

An American gangster film is a dime a dozen, there have been countless over the years and the 1920s and 30s are always featured fairly heavily, no doubt due to the large number of criminal gangs and mobsters around in that era. Personally, whilst The Untouchables is a good film, I don’t think there’s a lot in this to make it particularly notable or outstanding above any of the others. It’s engaging and interesting, which it should be considering the subject matter – it is based on a true story after all. The entire production looks great too; the sets, costumes and locations are very well done and definitely look the part.

The issue with The Untouchables is it’s too melodramatic, too over the top and clichéd. This isn’t helped by Ennio Morricone’s score, which feels far too heavy-handed, cheesy and out of place for the scenes. Even the open title credits are ridiculously overdramatic. You can definitely tell this film was made in the 80s and I’m afraid that’s not a good thing. There’s also some questionable acting from Kevin Costner, and while admittedly I’ve never been a big fan of his, the script and some of the almost cringe-worthy scenes with Ness’s wife don’t help matters. And De Niro’s Capone pops up in scenes that feel rather random and forced during the first hour, and seem completely out of place with the rest of the story.

Despite this, The Untouchables is still fairly enjoyable and this is mostly due to Sean Connery’s Malone, the role that he won his only Oscar for. The Irishman, despite sounding very Scottish, injects some much-needed heart, humour and spirit into the film and without him, this would have been a very lacklustre film indeed. Even Connery’s horrific Irish accent is a source of amusement, and without the character having been described as Irish, I would’ve just assumed he was Scottish.

Overall, I found The Untouchables to be a decent and entertaining gangster film as long as you can ignore the melodramatic overtones. But I’m not convinced that it’s anything memorable or above average.

The Untouchables (1987) Crime, Drama, Thriller | 119min | 18 September 1987 (UK) 7.9
Director: Brian De PalmaWriter: David Mamet, Oscar FraleyStars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De NiroSummary: After building an empire with bootleg alcohol, legendary crime boss Al Capone rules Chicago with an iron fist. Though Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness attempts to take Capone down, even his best efforts fail due to widespread corruption within the Windy City's police force. Recruiting an elite group of lawmen who won't be swayed by bribes or fear, including Irish-American cop Jimmy Malone, Ness renews his determination to bring Capone to justice. Written by Jwelch5742

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Sarah Clapperton
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I'm not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills - Bake Off here I come!