The Untouchables

The Untouchables ★★★★

De Palma does his “The Sting” in The Untouchables. If Scarface was pre-code gangster pulp given a garish modern update, then The Untouchables is Classic Hollywood drama meets the ‘80s’ hard-edged violence and grit. Hard to make a louder statement than blowing up a child in the first ten minutes.

De Niro’s grinning pulp-villain Capone personifies the monolith which Ness (Kevin Costner) and Malone (Sean Connery) aim to collapse: their driven beleaguered lawmen against an underworld luxuriating contently in protections and threat. De Palma shatters that glamorous safety “the Chicago way”, as Malone so eloquently puts, punctuating the quiet of shadowy streets and frontier borders with squib-splattering lead.

The four “Untouchables” each bring a distinct charisma, an ensemble to root for even with the focus on Costner and Connery. The latter earns his Supporting Actor win through weathered ruggedness and punchy delivery, a punchiness that De Palma mirrors in his suspense and thrills. Compared to Scarface, his style is more asserted here, with intense split-diopters, tension-building panning shots, and a stalking POV lifted directly from a giallo. The violence has an impact that recalls Peckinpah, especially the editing panache and eruptive mayhem of the film’s classic Union Station firefight.

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