The Untouchables | Chicago Reader

The Untouchables

While lack of feeling is ascribed more often to Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma qualifies more as a detached formalist. Here the relative absence of directorial emotion works hand in glove with the slickness and cynicism (as well as craft) of this big-scale 1987 adaptation by David Mamet of the 60s TV series, shellacked with a grandiloquent Ennio Morricone score. The results are watchable enough, with a particularly adept use of Sean Connery, Chicago locations, and period details. But De Palma's vulgar habit of copying and thereby reducing sequences from better directors is even more offensive when he turns to Eisenstein instead of the usual Hitchcock; his Odessa Steps hommage to Potemkin is the worst kind of kitschy student exercise. There's much more of Kevin Costner (as Eliot Ness) here than there is of Robert De Niro (as Al Capone), though Costner is quite effective in setting the Reaganite law-and-order tone. Still, it's a pity to have Charles Martin Smith eliminated so early in the proceedings.

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