Thursday, March 13, 2008
The Untouchables; crime, USA, 1987; D: Brian De Palma, S: Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia, Sean Connery, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Bradford
Chicago during the Great Depression. The Prohibition is still enforced by the government, but gangster Al Capone is still making a fortune by smuggling and selling alcohol. Then the Prohibition agent Eliot Ness shows up and declares in the news that he will defeat and arrest Capone. But he immediately experiences a setback when he makes a raid in a bar yet doesn't find any alcohol - obviously, the corruption is present even in the police rows. But then he meets the old police officer Malone who advises him to use dirty methods. Together with two men, they foil every shipment meant to Capone. But then the gangsters kill Malone and Capone hires a bribed jury at his trial for tax evasion. Ness replaces the jury and puts Capone behind bars.
The producers risked a lot when they invested additional money in the excellent crime film "The Untouchables", based on Eliot Ness's autobiographical account of capturing Al Capone, but the movie was a huge box office hit in the end, Brian De Palma's most commercial one aside from "Mission: Impossible". "The Untouchables" are at moments really untouchable, an idealistically made crime film of old school in which four unknown policemen are fighting against the strong gangster, filled with tight, realistic details and minimalistic mannerisms from De Palma's side. Sean Connery didn't achieve some sort of an outstanding role as Malone (the neatest scene is when he shoots at a fugitive criminal because he can't run anymore), yet the voters still gave him an Oscar and a Golden Globe as best supporting actor because he didn't win an award before, but was a legend anyway. He was also nominated for a BAFTA. De Niro is slightly miscast as Capone, but De Palma enriches the story with long juicy Steadicam shots, while the best action sequence is the one at the stairs when the gangsters shoot at Ness who tries to catch a baby carriage, which is a great bow to Eisenstein's famous Odessa sequence from "Potemkin".