I used to watch the original series, The Untouchables, in the reruns they did in Mexico, and it was a real treat. I mean, the action, the suspense and all that, was just fascinating, on how Eliot Ness (played then by Robert Stack) and his squad of Untouchables, manage to take down Al Capone and his gang. Then I found out about this modern version of the events. At first I was skeptic, since, well, you know how fragile and fucked up can Hollywood be. But still I decided to give it a chance and rent the film. And my money spent paid off. The film is one of the best adaptations ever (despite inaccuracies), and manages keeps you on the edge of your seat for most of the movie.The film is a synthesis of what happened in the turbulent 30s Chicago, a time where Gangs ruled the city, and illegal bootlegging of alcohol was flooding the streets, and furthermore: AL CAPONE RULES!!!
"A sleek, fast-paced, action thriller"
Then comes Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner back when he was great) to fight Capone (Robert De Niro) and his gang. Ness, whose an agent for the Treasury Department (there was no FBI back then) starts chasing Capone’s bootlegging, first unsuccessfully, but then, after teaming up with an aged, but experienced cop, Jim Malone (Sean Connery), a hotshot rookie George Stone (Andy Garcia) and an accountant (Charles Martin Smith), they form, the untouchables, and start disabling most of Capone’s organization, while at the same time avoiding Capone’s gunmen and his feared triggerman Frank Nitti (Billy Drago), for their quest to find everything they can to put Capone behind bars.
The highs of the film, are pretty much the development of the characters, each character is well developed in the movie. The action and suspense are classic De Palma stuff. Renowned for his skill at suspense, Brian De Palma turns a simple crime story and turns it into a great suspenseful movie, the entire time before and during the action scenes, you’re on the edge of your seat. What was surprising was the gore in the film, since I didn’t expect too much of it, especially in one disturbing scene where Malone grabs a dead guy and counts to three and shoots him in the head in front of one of Capone’s aides, and even worse when that aide is killed along with one of Ness’s men, but hey, you can deal with it. What’s also impressive is the set and costume designs, which perfectly depict Chicago in the 1930’s period.
The lows of it is that sometimes the film is a little too shaky on the action itself and in the script. David Mamet pretty much summarizes Ness’s campaign in bringing down Capone’s trail of corruption. I praise his talents in summarizing so much information, but many people here will chuckle at the historical inaccuracies in the film (Capone was actually convicted for tax evasion, and Frank Nitti lived long after Al Capone’s jailing) and the characters of Al Capone and Frank Nitti are a little too extreme and cartoonish. I have to say that unfortunately, De Niro is on autopilot here. He was perfect for the role bur he doesn’t add too much excitement to his role, and not much depth either. Billy Drago as Frank Nitti is brutal, but at times extremely cartoonish. Brian De Palma’s direction at times seems to be a little forced, especially at the opening scenes where Ness is trailing a possible bo1oze shipment that Capone is sending, and an annoying photographer keeps popping up at some pretty obvious moments. Other than that the film is solid.
The acting is also solid, largely due to the great performance by Sean Connery. Gosh man, honestly, I never thought he would deliver such performance. I always seen him as an average actor at best, and pretty much an actor who wouldn’t escape his James Bond ego, but hey, this is a rebirth of an actor. He fits the role perfectly and fully deserved that Oscar. Kevin Costner is surprisingly good as Eliot Ness, though at times he delivers a forced performance, but he fits his role well. Charles Martin Smith and Andy Garcia are also brilliant in their roles. Brian De Palma finally chose a good project to direct, though despite a few forced moves. It was evident that De Palma was already going to a period of decadence which he wouldn’t recover, and it was clear that this film was to be his last great gasp since he would bottom out with crapfests like Casualties Of War, Bonfire of the Vanities (ugh), Mission Impossible, Snake Eyes and Mission To Mars.In the end, this film has its troubles, but still manages to overcome them. You want action and entertainment on a Saturday night, this movie is for you and besides, we get to see Kevin Costner back when he WAS great. See it. (4.5-5)
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=934&reviewer=235
originally posted: 06/24/02 14:01:01