The Untouchables (1987)

untouchables poster 1987 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Solid crime thriller

Story drags at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:   The Untouchables

Studio:   Paramount Pictures

Genre(s):   Drama

Release Date(s):  June 2, 1987 (Premiere)/June 3, 1987 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

untouchables team eliot ness jimmy malone oscar wallace george stone andy garcia kevin costner sean connery charles martin smith

Maybe we’d have better luck if they had called us the Unkillables

It is 1930, and crime is running rampant in Chicago.  The Bureau of Prohibition has sent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) to clean up the town, but Ness discovers not all the criminals are gangsters.  Dealing with a dirty police force, Ness has assembled a team of “untouchables” which acts outside of the police.  Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery), Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith), and Giuseppe Petri aka George Stone (Andy Garcia) are out to bring down Al Capone (Robert De Niro).  Just because they are untouchable, doesn’t mean they can’t die.

Directed by Brian De Palma, The Untouchables is a gangster period thriller.  The movie was based upon the 1957 Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley’s memoir The Untouchables and the book was previously turned into a television series starring Robert Stack which ran from 1959 to 1963.  The film was released to positive reviews and Sean Connery received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor with nominations for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.

I am a fan of Brian De Palma, but Brian De Palma can really hit the target or really miss the target.  Despite everyone pointing to The Untouchables as a hit for De Palma, I never got around to seeing it all of the way through.  Not being a huge fan of gangster films, The Untouchables is good but didn’t really land for me.

untouchables al capone robert de niro

Are you talkin’ to me?!?!

First off, I recognize that the film is good and I can’t give it a bad rating.  The story is tight and has some surprises, but it is also loaded with gangster clichés…but the original series of The Untouchables helped establish some of those clichés so it almost becomes an homage to old gangster films.  For me, I basically knew where the story was going and there were few surprises along the way.

My other problem with The Untouchables is Kevin Costner.  I will say that it is a perfect role for him in that Ness is bland and predictable (even in his unpredictable moments like on the rooftop with Nitti).  Costner never gets emotional or if he does, it feels out of character.  He just seems to float through the whole movie.  Robert De Niro eats all his scenes up as Al Capone and also feels like a stereotype of the classic gangster…maybe Capone was like he is often portrayed, but I don’t get a real feel for him beyond what I already expected out of him.  Sean Connery is good as Malone, but people often argue if it was a “gimmie” by the Academy to honor him.

untouchables george stone andy garcia baby carriage

Save the baby!

The movie is good looking.  Brian De Palma (regardless if you like him) always makes film interesting.  The Untouchables has a little less experimentation in his shots and a little more self-control (something De Palma seems to sometimes lack).  While this shows more maturity, it also can be seen as “less fun”, but it still looks good.

The Untouchables is a good picture that just didn’t do much for me.  I wanted it to be flashier, more dynamic, and edgier…with a different cast, more of De Palma’s signature cinematography arrangement, and a story where the surprises aren’t as obvious, The Untouchables would have scored higher for me (think L.A. Confidential).  With a classic story and characters, I can see The Untouchables rising again in some form or another.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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