Thursday, February 10, 2011

“They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way!”

I got tired of people giving me funny looks when I told them I hadn’t seen 1987’s The Untouchables. Well, now there’s one less reason for them to give me funny looks.

Prohibition Chicago, a city effectively ruled by crime boss and bootlegger Al Capone (Robert De Niro). A young Federal Agent named Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) arrives in town intent on enforcing the law and bringing Capone to justice. He has a rough time of it until he assembles a hand-picked team of not-dirty cops to help him out: Jim Malone (Sean Connery), Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) and George Stone (Andy Garcia). Together, they become known as The Untouchables (Dun dun dun) for their incorruptibility.

Directed by Brian De Palma, the movie is really well shot with excellent pacing and some really impressive action set pieces. About the only thing I really, really didn’t like was the shootout near the end, the famous “Odessa Steps” remake in the station. I know, I know, its an homage to one of the great scenes of the silent era and I can respect that, but here its such a gigantic shift from the rest of the movie that it felt a little, I hate to say it, out of place.

And if you feel like seeing just how many times said Odessa Steps sequence gets homaged/referenced:

Screenplay by David Mamet and “suggested by” the book “The Untouchables” by (the real) Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley. Naturally the screenplay takes a lot of liberties with history (there were more than just four Untouchables, Capone’s lieutenant didn’t die like that, etc) but that doesn’t really bother me since 20th century history isn’t my area. The dialogue is sharp, the characters well defined, and the story keeps moving at a good pace.

Original music by Ennio Morricone, and the music is very, very good.

The Untouchables really surprised me. In the best possible way. The cast all do a solid to excellent job with their characters, the writing and plot are incredibly solid despite the liberties they take with history, and the visual feel of the movie is incredibly stylish and well done (with one exception that I mentioned above). Awesome movie though, and heartily recommended.

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