The Untouchables Reviews
The Untouchables might be said to be less than the sum of its parts. Certain of those parts are very good indeed: Sean Connery gives an Oscar winning performance as a street-wise Irish-American cop, Robert De Niro is unforgettable as Al Capone (though he's not actually on screen that much), the atmosphere of Prohibition-era Chicago is elaborately and convincingly realized, and certain of the cinematic set-pieces, like the justly famous midnight shoot-out in Chicago's train station, are about as good as they can be. But against this, Kevin Costner's performance as Eliot Ness is wooden, the scenes with his family seem too goody-goody, as if the film were straining to make a point of the decent values he's defending, and, with the exception of Connery's character, it's hard to feel much empathy with either the good guys or the bad guys. All in all, an ambitious film which ends up being a bravura piece of film making but a good, not great, gangster movie. Rated R for occasional language and lots of graphic violence. Available in various DVD issues, including a recent Blu-Ray; I saw it on the 2004 Paramount standard DVD Collector's Edition, and I thought the DVD quality was very good.
The other, perhaps even bigger flaw is Kevin Costner. I don't ordinarily have a problem with Costner starring in a movie, but there wasn't a single second where I was convinced of his performance in this movie. He was not the right person to play Eliot Ness in my opinion. He was flat and awkward, and I just couldn't figure out what he was doing. His facial expressions barely shifted from a scene where he was supposed to be in deep mourning to a scene where he was furious with rage. There were a couple of scenes where I found myself laughing involuntarily, because the line delivery felt so wrong. I don't know what it is, because at the beginning I thought he was perfect as the straight-laced cop who wouldn't dare to bend the rules. The problem is when his character was supposed to start shifting, I just wasn't seeing it in his performance. It's tough because he's on screen with so many others that are knocking it out of the park, but he did nothing for me. (On a side note: It also didn't help that I recently saw Naked Gun 3 and that movie has an opening scene which directly parodies the baby carriage/train station sequence. I seriously had to fight to avoid cracking up when I saw it here.) The plot of the film, and the other great performances lifted it up so I still enjoyed the experience of watching, but I think it could have been truly great if a couple of different decisions were made in the production.