You know, I just now realized that I had some of my movies completely out of order. I’m pretty sure it happened last year when I bout all of those box sets and was trying to get everything entered into my list, and just wasn’t paying that much attentions as I got further into the alphabet. Well, I shall try to do a better job of that in the future so let’s move on to today’s movie. Now I have seen portions of this movie for years on television but I think the first time I ever saw this in it’s entirety was when I actually bought the DVD for myself. I mean, this is one of those movies that tends to wind up on those “must watch” lists so I figured I might as well get it so I could watch the whole thing in one go. Was this an good choice of an impulse buy? Only one way to find out so let’s see how much I enjoy today’s movie, The Untouchables.
The plot: During the Prohibition era in Chicago, Al Capone has risen to power as the top gang lord controlling the illegal alcohol in the city. After a bombing at a local shop kills a 10 year old girl, Prohibition Agent Eliot Ness is sent to Chicago to work with the police in bringing Capone down. After giving a brief press conference, Ness speaks to the police officers assigned to the task force and tells them he knows some of them have probably had a drink before, but from now on, they have to stop as the best way to enforce the law is to show that they are following the law themselves. That night, Ness stakes out a suspected liquor storage facility and is forced to chase away a newspaper reporter who was staking out the scene as well. After spotting activity at the warehouse, Ness leads a raid inside, capturing the workers and inviting the photographer to take a picture of him exposing the illegal liquor, only to find the crates filled with umbrellas. Upset at seeing the newspapers talking about the failed bust, Ness encounters beat cop Jimmy Malone, who offers him some advise on handling Chicago. After receiving a visit from the little girl’s mother, Ness goes to see Malone and tries to recruit him to join his team but Malone refuses. Returning to the police station, Ness is greeted by Oscar Wallace, a member of the FBI’s accounting division, who says they might be able to build a case against Capone for tax evasion. Ness is frustrated at that but sees Malone standing outside his office and goes to talk to him. Malone takes him out of the station, saying the walls have ears, and helps Ness realize that the reason his raid failed was because the police tipped off Capone. Malone takes Ness to the police academy, where they recruit George Stone (whose real name is Giuseppe Petri) to join their team. After heading back to the station, Malone grabs some shotguns from the weapons closet and hands them to Ness, Stone, and Wallace, then leads them to one of Capone’s liquor caches. The men successfully pull off the raid on the surprised workers and the press starts giving them some positive publicity, calling them the Untouchables. That night, Capone is hosting a dinner for his men and kills the man in charge of the raided cache as a warning to the others. The next day, Ness is visited by an associate of Capone, who offers Ness a bribe to look the other way regarding Capone’s business, but Ness refuses and throws the man out of his office. As Ness heads home that night, Capone’s hitman, Frank Nitti, speaks to him from his car, making subtle threats to Ness’ family before driving off. Ness rushes into his house and after making sure that his wife and daughter are safe, he contacts Malone. Wallace and a police officer, who happens to be Malone’s cousin, show up and the officer takes Ness’ family to a safe house for safety. After they drive off, Malone and Stone show up and Malone tells Ness that they know when Capone is expecting a delivery of liquor across the Canadian border and they quickly head off to stop it. Meeting up with a division of Canadian Mounties, Ness works out a plan and they wait to ambush the delivery. When the delivery occurs, the Mounties jump the gun and Ness and his team are forced to rush out to carry out their part of the ambush. A shoot out occurs and Stone is wounded but they manage to kill several of Capone’s men and capture George, one of Capone’s bookkeepers. As Wallace looks at the books that George was carrying, he realizes that if they can prove that Capone is receiving payments, that will seal their case against him for tax evasion. George refuses to say anything but when Malone grabs the body of a dead man and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t talk, not revealing to George that the man is already dead, Malone shoots him and George immediately says he will confess. After hearing that the liquor shipment was seized and that George has been captured, Capone orders his men to kill Ness and his family in retaliation. The next day, the district attorney announces that they are filling charges against Capone for tax evasion and Wallace is preparing to escort George to a safe house so he can testify in court. As they take the elevator down to the street, they are shot by Nitti, who was disguised as a police officer. Hearing the shots, Ness and Malone go to check on Wallace and find the police escorts dead as well as George and Wallace, with the word “Touchable” written in blood on the elevator wall. Ness is enraged and heads out to confront Capone and when Capone taunts him, he starts to pull out a gun to shoot him but Malone stops him and tells him. When the D.A. talks about not pressing the case, Ness starts to give up hope on bringing down Capone but Malone tells him to stall the D.A., saying he might have a way to get the information they need. Malone goes to see Police Chief Mike Dorsett, knowing that he was the one that set up Wallace and George, and Mike tells him he was doing him a favor by letting them be killed instead of all of them like Capone wanted. The two men fight and Malone eventually learns when Walter Payne, Capone’s head bookkeeper is set to be moved out of the city. Malone calls Stone and tells him to let Ness know he found the bookkeeper and to meet at his apartment. As he waits for Ness and Stone, Malone is confronted by one of Capone’s men but as he chases the man out of his apartment, he is shot by Nitti, who was waiting in ambush. When Ness and Stone arrive, they find Malone mortally wounded but he is able to relay the information that Payne will be arriving at Union Station at midnight. Ness and Stone head there and start looking around for any sign of Payne, during which time, NEss decides to help a woman carry her baby carriage up the stairs when he notices several of Capone’s gangsters exiting the train. When Ness realizes he has been made, he starts shooting the gangsters, with Stone joining in, then rushes to keep the carriage from falling down the stairs and killing the baby. Stone manages to stop the carriage as the last gangster threatens to kill Payne but Stone is able to shoot him, saving Payne’s life. The trial commences and as Payne gives his testimony, Capone doesn’t look worried and the D.A. speaks with Ness and Stone about it. When he notices Nitti speaking with Capone then leave the courtroom, Ness follows him and has the guard search him. He finds a gun on him but also a note containing permission from the mayor to carry it and is forced to give it back. Grabbing a pack of matches from Nitti’s jacket to light a cigarette, Ness finds Malone’s address written on it and realizes Nitti killed Malone. Malone shoots the guard and flees up onto the rooftop, with Ness following him and eventually capturing him but when Nitti taunts him about how Malone died, Ness throws him off the roof. As Ness returns inside, Stone approaches him with a list he found inside Nitti’s jacket and reveals that it is a list of the jurors, indicating they have been bribed. Ness and Stone bring the list to the judge’s attention but he refuses to switch jurors but when Ness asks to speak with him alone, Ness tells the judge that his name is in Capone’s ledger. As the trial resumes, the judge orders the jurors to be switched and as confusion sets in at Capone’s table, his lawyer changes his plea to guilty, causing Capone to punch him as pandemonium breaks out in the courtroom. Some time later, Ness is packing up his office and says goodbye to Stone, who tries to give Ness Malone’s St. Jude medallion and callbox key but Ness tells him to keep them. As Ness leaves the station, he is approached by a reporter for a statement and is asked what he will do if Prohibition is repealed and Ness smiles and says he will have a drink, then walks off.
The Untouchables met with positive results from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Slick on the surface but loaded with artful touches, Brian DePalma’s classical gangster thriller is a sharp look at period Chicago crime, featuring excellent performances from a top-notch cast.” Unlike the movie, in real life Al Capone had a non-violence order issued to his men in regards to the Untouchables, as he knew killing a Prohibition Agent would bring more trouble than he wanted to deal with. The movie was a box office success, earning $106.2 million off of a $25 million budget and was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, with Sean Connery winning the award for Best Supporting Actor.
I do think this movie got a little bit over hyped but it is a good movie none the less. The acting was good, with Kevin Costner doing an ok job as Ness but Robert De Niro and Sean Connery doing great jobs in their roles of Capone and Malone respectively. The story was good, with some basis in reality embellished to make it more entertaining to the audience. The special effects with the gun battles were about what you would expect for the time. My biggest problem with this movie is honestly some of the camera work involved. I thought the repeated use of different camera angles to replay the same scene over and over in an attempt to accent the impact or action was a little much. However, the true point of ridiculousness on this matter was when Nitti was thrown from the roof, as the camera changes to a close up of his face screaming as he falls to the ground. That was some of the most ridiculous blue screening I have seen coming from a big budget movie in a long, long time. So, is this a good movie? Yes. Is this a must see movie? That one is a matter of a personal opinion but personally, I wouldn’t call it a must see unless you enjoy movies based on real events.
Rating: 4 out of 5