Federal Agent Eliot Ness (Costner) is frustrated at the strangle-hold gangster Al Capone (De Niro) has over the city of Chicago. He decides a more direct approach is needed to bring down the mob leader and halt the trade in illegal alcohol. Veteran policeman Malone (Connery) helps Ness to develop some old fashioned police skills, and together they put together a team properly equipped to bring a little hell to the city's gangsters.
A powerful movie harking back to gangster films of the 1930s and '40s, in some ways The Untouchables is a good old fashioned piece of cinema. In others, it's a very calculated piece of De Palma showboating; in the famous scene of the shoot-out in Grand Central Station, the baby carriage rolling down the steps recalls Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin.
But the success of the movie boils down to two performances; not so much Costner's as the upright Ness, but Connery's as the grizzled Irish cop and De Niro's as the monstrously violent Capone. There are strange parallels with Bugsy Malone and Dick Tracy (which also featured De Niro as a villain), but The Untouchables, based on a long-running TV series, is played completely straight, with not a hint of colourful campiness. A real modern classic of the genre.
Our Review Ethos