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The Untouchables Reviews

Kevin Costner became a star as the legendary "G-Man" Eliot Ness in THE UNTOUCHABLES, a slam-bang gangster saga with bravura direction by Brian De Palma, a witty David Mamet script and superb acting, including Robert De Niro as Al Capone and Sean Connery's Oscar-winning turn as a wily veteran cop. The film has virtually nothing in common with the famous 1950s TV series, and even less to do with real history, but it's a terrifically entertaining and exciting movie nonetheless. The story is almost totally fictionalized (Ness never killed Frank Nitti and had nothing to do with Capone's income-tax rap), but this becomes completely irrelevant in light of the beautifully crafted film's accomplishments. De Palma, who has often been accused of emphasizing style over content, here has a strong and substantial script to work with, and his flashy direction meshes perfectly with the film's flamboyantly operatic design. Mamet's script may not be true to history, but it's true to human emotion and very moving, personalizing the battle between good and evil by concentrating on the impact that violence and corruption has on families. The concept of family and children as being representative of all that's good and pure becomes the film's central motif, as virtually every act of violence is followed by a tender scene between Ness and his wife and kids. Thus, it makes perfect sense that the film's most famous set-piece involves a mother and her child--the 10-minute long train-station sequence that pays homage to BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN (1925)--with a baby carriage bouncing down the steps in slow-motion as Ness and Capone's gang shoot it out. The film's other set-pieces are all technical tours de force, including a rooftop chase with Ness and Nitti, and a Canadian border ambush, which is shot like a Sergio Leone western, replete with Mounties on horseback and Ennio Morricone's jangling harmonica music.