The Untouchables (1987) Review


Federal Agent Eliot Ness wants nothing more than to stop ruthless Chicago gangster Al Capone during the era of Prohibition. The police force are suffering with very corrupt officer so he assembles a very small team, Jim Malone, Oscar Wallace and George Stone.


The most engaging thing about The Untouchables is that while it is about Al Capone it doesn’t actually focus too much on him. The focus lies with the police who really wanted to actually make a difference within Chicago, but then for the rest of the US as well. Eliot Ness confirming that some police were willing to risk their lives by taking Capone down, while many just took bribes and conveniently looked the other way.

Ness’ right hand man becomes Jim Malone an Irish-American cop who really wants nothing more than people to pay the price for disobeying the law. He does things when he wants and how he wants which certainly helps Ness when they are attempting to nail Capone. George Stone is drafted in during a fantastic scene with Malone questioning his real name and why he changed it. Oscar Wallace was in by chance when he just happened to come into the room when they needed a fourth person and he was given a gun and ordered to go with them!

While trying to get Capone for the illegal trade in liquor during the Prohibition, Wallace discovers that he has not actually paid tax for four years and they attempt to then put a case of tax evasion. With that everything is getting built up against Capone, which also means that more bodies are going to drop because of this. Something interesting though was that in real life he would never actually go after the Untouchables to kill them.

Visually the film looks fantastic, Chicago is a truly incredible city and to see it transformed back to that time period really was something else. The costume department certainly did a great job with the style as well, everything looking just fantastic. Yes, even Connery’s flat cap – he was there before all that Peaky Blinders stuff!

Another film with a truly terrific score that offers so much more to the different scenes, at time making it truly beautiful. Something that you really do not associate with gangster and police. From Ennio Morricone who I have to admit I really appreciated doing The Hateful Eight a few years ago as well as Once Upon a Time in America. He just gets everything so perfect and matched to scenes quite shocking that he has only won one Oscar (plus an honorary one)  from six nominations – including for this film!

The performances are outstanding Kevin Costner was not massively known when he was given the lead in the film and it’s such a good job they took a chance on him as he really does an impressive job with Ness. Sean Connery won an Oscar for an actor in a supporting role and it was more than deserved, I am sure even if you have not seen the film you know all about his death scene. One of the longest on film, especially when you see the fire power he managed to survive. Worked very well with Costner and they share many fantastic scenes together. Charles Martin Smith and Andy Garcia make up the team of Untouchables and they are both outstanding alongside Connery and Costner. Robert De Niro took on the tough role of becoming Al Capone, while he does not fully look like him the acting performance is second to none just as you would expect. Taking not that different accent was good considering he has done a lot of New York based characters.

A few interesting facts I have found out about the making of the film is that Albert H. Wolff who was the last survivor of the real like Untouchables was a consultant on the film and helped Kevin Costner with his portrayal of Ness. Robert De Niro who always gets right into his characters tracked down Capone’s original tailors so the clothing would be identical. I feel this same attention to detail things really help to make the film even better.

Eliot Ness died in 1957 and in Chicago nothing was reported on this, he had been totally forgotten about until years later and the book of the Untouchables and the a TV series. So even though quite a bit of his actual character was changed for the film at least he has been given a lot more credit than it seemed he received at the time for taking down Al Capone.

The Untouchables manages to be extremely engaging from start to finish, with very impressive acting performances along with plenty of action, interesting moments and not forgetting some fantastic one liners (mainly from Connery, “now enough of this running shit” being a particular highlight).

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