The Untouchables (1987)

Not a great gangster flick, but a good one none the less.

G-man Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) will stop at nothing to take down legendary gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) — even if it means bending some rules and breaking some bones! Sean Connery steals the show with his performance of a tough-as-nails Chicago street cop who shows Ness the ropes.

There is a lot of effort put into this film to put a spin on the gangster film genre with a big budget, ambitious and authentic look of the 1930s, and a script by the great David Mamet. Too bad its not what you would expect.

The major flaw of this film is that it thinks it’s more creative than it is. De Palma’s stated goal was to create a twist on the gangster film genre, which no prior to him had actually ended the Al Capone story in the true fashion. But he thinks that gives him license to play up all of the conventions of the genre as if the ending then will shock and make-up for the deficiencies of the genre. However, the ending is not surprising and the bulk of the plot feels forced, scenes in the church, criminals with no aim, the corrupt police officers, an abstraction of right and wrong in the face of heavy injustices.

De Palma is a good director but for me this isn’t his type of work. i’ll give him one thing he does a good job here at directing especially one great slow-mo action shot, but cannot keep up with his story, and takes too much style over it. The film at times, came off as way too corny, and in my opinion could have been played out a whole lot better.

I will say that the look and feel of this film is what makes it reasonable. It look exactly like the 30s with all of the little details about the city of Chicago during this time. Also, the writing at times isn’t great, but the story keeps on going so it made me pretty entertained as it was going on.

Mostly it was the performances that did it for me. Costner in one his first big roles, plays Ness as a young guy who at first is cocky, then changes into still being nervous about his career and what he wants to do. I was disappointed by De Niro, cause I felt he really wasn’t in the film that much to create a hateful villain. I was upset that he also didn’t get to use his charm at all, and played a very routine Capone. The one who steals the show for me is Connery who come sinto the movie, and is everything you want in a great teacher: funny, smart, and all around tough. There are lines in this film that are funny mostly due to Connery’s great deliverance.

Consensus: The Untouchables is well-acted, nicely written, and overall highly entertaining, but is a disappointing film with De Palma’s failed direction, and use of being too corny.



  1. great music, great Costner performance – in the late 80s and early 90s no one did the upstanding good guy as well as him – and great ham from Connery and De Niro
    good watch

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