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Overall Rating
4.38

Awesome59.81%
Worth A Look: 28.04%
Average: 5.61%
Pretty Bad: 3.74%
Total Crap: 2.8%

4 reviews, 83 user ratings


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Untouchables, The
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by MP Bartley

"Frankly, I don't trust anyone who doesn't love this movie."
5 stars

You could rob my house, burn it down, be cruel to small dogs, spit in my eye and do all matter of nefarious activities - but if you then said "Ah, but I love The Untouchables..." - hell, you could marry my sister anyday of the week. You're alright by me.

I don't think there's any other movie where I try and slip dialogue into real-life as much as I do with this one. I would love it if I knew someone called Nitti and then someone could ask me "Where's Nitti?" and I'd reply after a pause, "He's in the car". That's how much I love this movie.

Set in prohibition Chicago, 'The Untouchables' is the story of Eliott Ness (Kevin Costner) forming a gang of incorruptible cops to take down Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). His gang consists of nearly-retired beat cop Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) a seen-it-all cop who feels he has little to offer apart from years of street-smart advice. There's hot-headed young sharp-shooter George Stone (Andy Garcia) plucked straight from the training academy, and lastly Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) a nerdy accountant who thinks tax evasion may be the bizarre key to Capones downfall and whose recruitment into the Untouchables is his first time at handling a gun in action.

Although initially laughed at because of their failure to find not illegal booze, but umbrellas, the Untouchables soon start to make headway, troubling Capone to the extent of putting out a death warrant on them, using his own system of corrupt cops.

That sums up the most refreshing aspect of 'The Untouchables': it's a crime drama where we're firmly on the side of the good guys. There's no glamourising of the gangsters here, no tortured loyalty to friends - 'The Untouchables' is painted black and white, good versus evil. In case we're in any doubt they even blow a small child up in the opening ten minutes. Go get 'em Ness!

But for a films that does paint in broad black and white strokes, it allows room for rich characters and terrific acting. Kevin Costner has one of the worst reps of anyone around, but let's be honest about this, I can name a dozen actors who have done a hell of a lot more bad films than him and who don't get anywhere near as much crap as Kev gets. Look at it this way, he's had far more better performances than Samuel L. Jackson... and who's regarded as the better actor?

Anyway rant over, but Costner is superb here, his best performance alongside 'JFK'. It's a great portrait of a man in a position of authority but plagued by doubts and a lack of confidence. You can see Capones arrogance eating away at him in the early stages, but then see him visibly toughen up as the film progresses until THAT roof-top climax with Nitti. And even then Costner shows us that Ness is no vigilante, but someone who is really tormented by the thought of killing.

DeNiro just has a ball as Capone, a role he was surely born to play. Squatting down and fattening up, he's a childish ball of homicidal rage that creates a very real sense of danger within the film. In contrasts superbly to Ness' sense of goodness and quiet inner steel.

But both would have to admit that this film is owned by one man and one man only: the greatest Scot to ever live (playing an Irishman here), Sir Sean Connery. He can play however many roles he wants in his own accent, but I'll always love him for being a) the best Bond and b) Malone here. Connery is faultless as a cop frustrated by the nagging thought that he hasn't done anything as a cop that'll make a difference, until now - his last chance. And he seizes it with both hands giving him grit and humanity, making him tough and tender and dispensing street-wise advice to the rest of the group:

"You wanna know how you do it? Here's how, they pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send on of his to the morgue! That's the Chicago way, and that's how you get Capone! Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that?"

Could any other actor, ever, say those same lines and just get it so damn right? I'd wager not.

Connery is the heart of the film and the one scene I guarantee that will always get me blubbing like a girl is when he's ambushed by Nitti and coughs his last "What are you prepared to do?". What great final words, I want that on my gravestone. (and for anyone crying "Spoiler!", come on it's 'The Untouchables' if you haven't even seen it what the hell are you doing on this site?). It's probably the most deserved acting Oscar in the last 20 years.

The rest of the cast are also superb. Garcia has never been better as the angry young Stone, slowly coming of age in difficult circumstances, and Martin Smith is unforgettable in a small and sad role as the first one to be found 'touchable'.

But the unsung hero of the cast is Billy Drago as hitman Frank Nitti. He's nasty personified and if you had to draw a human representation of evil, chances are he'd look like Nitti. Hateable from the very start, the moment where Ness makes him interface with a car from the top of a building is still a moment I cheer to the day.

"Where's Nitti?" (pause) "He's in the car".

It must have been a huge relief for DePalma to get such a perfect cast, as it allows him to let his direction to really breathe and this is one of his masterpieces, one of the reasons he's still a regarded film-maker. His pacing is superb, his editing of the action pieces crisp and snappy. He knows what he's got here is pure thrilling cinema with no irony, no room for un-needed plotting or characters, so he trims all the fat away to give us a sleek, purposeful, brutal ride that shocks, excites and moves to the day. It's carried off with such panache you can't help but get dragged along.

The film looks sumptous with top-notch production design and great cinematography giving it a glowing period feel. Topped off with Ennio Morricones wonderful music, there's an evocative atmosphere that only Leone can rival.

But the script...as I said earlier, there's no other film I quote from more on a day-to-day routine:

"Your friend died like a stuck Irish pig..."

(cue a trip from a rooftop)

"Did he sound anything like that?!"

"Better than you, you stinkin' Irish pig!" "Oh I like him!"

"Isn't that just like a wop? Brings a knife to a gun fight."

"I do not approve of your methods!"
"Yeah well...you're not from Chicago..."

" I want this guy dead! I want his family dead! I want his house burned to the ground! I want to go there in the middle of the night and piss on his ashes!"

"Somebody messes with me, I'm gonna mess with him."

And the best final line of any film ever...

"Word is they're going to repeal Prohibition. What'll you do then?"
" I think I'll have a drink."

Historical accuracy be damned, this is one of the greatest gangster films of all time and simply one of the greatest films of all time full stop. It's one of those rare breeds that's very hard to even find a nit-pick to fault it. As you can probably tell from this lengthy review, I love this film with an obsession. It's thrillingly old-fashioned in it's bad against good depiction but so entertainingly done it doesn't matter a jot.

This is a film to cure the blues, make me want to live my life like the movies, and if I'm ever feeling jaded about cinema I just pop this in and I'm a wide-eyed 11 year-old seeing it for the first time again.

Hell I even love the tag-line and the poster like no other.

"Never stop fighting until the fight is done. Here endeth the lesson"

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=934&reviewer=293
originally posted: 03/27/04 00:20:29
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User Comments

9/06/12 Ed Good "shoot up the gangster" entertainment. Connery is great in his role. 4 stars
7/25/10 art MAGNIFICENT MOVIE!,SEAN CONNERY is a STANDOUT as JIM MALONE! 4 stars
3/19/10 Lord Blathazar OMG BEST MOVIE EVER, DESTORYER OF WORLDS 5 stars
2/27/10 PAUL SHORTT POLISHED, HIGH-ENERGY GANGSTER FILM WITH SOME GOOD PERFORMANCES 4 stars
1/27/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess People are talking this movie too seriously. It's stylish pulp folks, just enjoy it. 4 stars
12/28/09 Dane Youssef Mostly unremarkable. A few choice moments. A fine movie, but not much more. 3 stars
6/01/09 Jeff Wilder As history it's bunk. As a purely entertaining movie few can touch it. 4 stars
2/13/08 chris very well set up movie of the the decade not as good as an hitchcock movie 4 stars
11/17/07 drew s john caldwell it doesnt suck, u suck 5 stars
7/23/07 Duke Put some pants on the poor baby! 4 stars
5/16/07 brit absolutly awsome 5 stars
3/24/07 action movie fan some good action but acting was better that the script 3 stars
1/09/07 R.W.Welch Hi-water mark for DePalma and Costner with Oscar perf from Sean at no extra charge. 5 stars
10/19/06 David Pollastrini some of brian De Palma best work 5 stars
10/17/06 Terence Very entertaining movie. 5 stars
5/07/06 chienne Bloody marvellous film! Sean's death scene is a bit o'top but brilliant stuff. 5 stars
4/17/06 John Caldwell it sux. 1 stars
11/22/05 WiseMan This movie was exellent. very entertaining, it wont get boring, I promise you 5 stars
10/11/05 Agent Sands Perfect Hollywood entertainment. 5 stars
8/13/05 ES Mr. connery this is the stuff 5 stars
6/14/05 Indrid Cold Surprisingly cartoonish and silly. I was quite disappointed given its reputation. 3 stars
3/17/05 Jarrad Great gun play, action and the soundtrack was excellent-LOVED IT!!!!! 5 stars
10/23/04 UMER deniro deserved more screen time and connery is just plain lucky to get an oscar here 4 stars
9/25/04 kt very inaccurate and ridiculous (eg: Malones death scene) 2 stars
4/26/04 Lord Jiggy It's held up over the years, unlike some others I loved when younger. Excellent. 5 stars
4/14/04 LIAM JACKSON Frank Nitti:A truly fearsome prescence 5 stars
3/28/04 Margie pretty good, and all the beautiful men (costner, connery, garcia) don't hurt 4 stars
3/27/04 buddy garrett i enjoyed the tv series more 4 stars
3/27/04 rojo I really like De Palma's stylized treatment of this one, right up there with Scarface. 4 stars
3/27/04 y2mckay De Palma's best film. Sean Connery earned the Oscar. Even Costner respectable. 5 stars
3/27/04 Jack Sommersby Well-crafted, but it's obvious and soulless. Good acting somewhat compensates. 2 stars
1/12/04 Edmundo Miquel The EFC Review is terrible, really bad! Do you know anything about cinema? 3 stars
12/05/03 john a hell of a ride - but it seems to have three endings and it's still not over 4 stars
10/19/03 Alan Good solid story. A few problems with the facts, but that's Hollywood. 4 stars
8/23/03 verna i would like to see more gangster movies with a better actor than kevin costner 1 stars
7/13/03 Spiderfan729 Definately makes my top five. This movie has more thrills than a roller coaster. 5 stars! 5 stars
6/23/03 AD mintttttttttttttttttttt 5 stars
5/23/03 mr. Pink An entertaining movie, nothing more or less. 4 stars
5/08/03 Flounder One of the best mob movies ever to grace the silver screen! 5 stars
4/06/03 . The scene in the station with that baby was the best! 5 stars
3/23/03 Debbie THE CAMERA ANGLES, CAST 5* 5 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby It's OK, but, boy, could this thing use some invention and verve! 3 stars
1/14/03 Poohead it is like heaven came down in the form of a videotape to bring one of the greatest films 5 stars
12/26/02 STEVE HOW COULD A GREAT CAST,DIRECTOR,MAKE A DISAPPOINTING FILM...... 2 stars
12/10/02 Gazza E De Niro, Connery, Costner, Garcia, and that train station scene. Just wonderful. 5 stars
9/07/02 Ramblin Wreck It supposed to be dated. It's the 30's.........idiot 5 stars
7/12/02 KMG DATED. 3 stars
6/24/02 Charles Tatum History be damned! Morricone's best musical score. 5 stars
5/21/02 Kris one of my three favorite movies, well actualy my favorite, im a connery fan 5 stars
4/03/02 Lizz I was a nice film, but I think there are weird things (like Jimmy's death. Come on!) 5 stars
3/17/02 FlaFan Great work by the whole cast, especially Connery, in his comeback role. 5 stars
1/29/02 anandh One of the excellent movies i have seen 5 stars
12/01/01 Mark Conway Sean Connery makes the movie what it is, very entertaining. 4 stars
10/30/01 elana good 1 stars
9/04/01 Butterbean PrettyWhy is there always a comment about how the music sucked? Shaddup and watch the movie 5 stars
8/09/01 E-Funk Maybe it was because I was high, but I thought the performances were fake/ music sucked. 2 stars
7/07/01 Elvisfan One of DePalma's best; certainly better than raping old Hitchock movies, right? 5 stars
7/04/01 TLsmooth Costner has been everywhere since it's release and I damn this film for that. 4 stars
7/04/01 Fish Eye One of the best cop movies ever - Connery is awesome and train station shootout is classic 5 stars
6/09/01 Shams Huque Absolute classic, if inaccuarte historically. Enjoy the exerience. By the way, what a cast! 5 stars
6/04/01 Just like a Wop . . . bringin' a knife to a gunfight! 5 stars
4/27/01 D.Welsch just saw it for the third time---great film that will go down as a CLASSIC!!! 5 stars
4/24/01 Spetters Good entertainment. Not a classic DePalma but a good 2 hours are guaranteed 4 stars
4/20/01 Matthew Bartley You wanna know how to get Capone? Here's how you get him... 5 stars
3/12/01 James Quinn Costner's moralism is perfect for Ness, so for once it doesn't detract. DeNiro is amazing! 5 stars
3/07/01 Jake The scene in the train station with the baby carriage is priceless. Garcia is great 5 stars
1/26/01 Saburo Some of the coolest lines of dialog ever. 5 stars
12/20/00 Speedy The greatest crime film of the 80s, Sean Connery is amazing! 5 stars
12/04/00 Cristopher Revilla gory, but still a great film, great performance by Sean Connery 5 stars
2/10/00 Ed Wood thrilling 5 stars
1/23/00 Jimbo Lequesne Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! 5 stars
11/04/99 Karahde Khan Great supporting actors and music, overall a film not to be missed (despite Sick Boy). 4 stars
8/18/99 Japtalian Kevin Costner is such a pussy but we love that Sean Connery. 5 stars
6/21/99 Ah Dooey worth watching, definitely a must-see 4 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson A watchable Kevin Costner movie, crazy. De Niro and a bat, classic. 4 stars
2/02/99 Matthew Bartley The greatest dialogue EVER written!! And Connery kicks butt! 5 stars
1/02/99 tarkin666 Hot damn, I miss prohibition. 5 stars
11/29/98 Mike F even know the mafia lost, it was a great movie still and all 5 stars
11/27/98 little jerry The sort of film where 'conventional' is a good thing.5 STARS if confined to Chicago. 4 stars
11/13/98 Jules One of very few good movies starring Costner. DeNiro as Capone, that was so inspired... 5 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob Here is DePalma, being the mixmaster of Cinematic style and cliche! Kool stuff! 4 stars
10/25/98 Johny Well directed, not quite exceptional action film 4 stars
9/15/98 tessSpork pretty good story line, good acting, though the staircase scene was a little too much. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Jun-1987 (R)
  DVD: 05-Oct-2004

UK
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