Throwback Review: The Untouchables

The Untouchables Movie Poster

Seventh in a series of “throwback” posts. This review was written in September 1987, when the author was 17 years old, just out of high school, and crazy about movies.

In Hindsight: As I transcribe these throwback reviews from yellowing dot matrix printouts, I get a clearer picture of my young adult mind. A few observations, setting aside how shallow the review itself is. I think I was writing for an imagined audience that would be renting VHS cassettes for group movie nights; I wrote “the best way to see it is opening night, in a packed theater…”  I still think that, although by my early 20’s I was a projectionist who almost always watched alone. Also, The Untouchables is NOT “the first time [De Palma had] everything working just right” – that would be Blow Out (1981).  Finally, it’s interesting to me that even at 17, I was mentioning cinematography and music in what I wrote.

The Untouchables Movie PosterI’ve always admired Brian DePalma, but this is the first time he’s had everything working just right. This is one of those movies where if you know me, you know I’ve seen it and I’ll be happy to tell you about it. Here we go.

I like gangster movies, but usually everyone is sort of bad. This is one you can cheer for because the good guys are really good and the bad guys are really bad. It’s a hero movie. It’s got some great repeatable lines, a bunch of unforgettable scenes, great acting, great camerawork.

Some movies blow you over so completely it’s impossible to be objective about them. This qualifies. This movie made Kevin Costner one of my favorite actors. (See also Silverado (1985) and No Way Out (1987) for two more of his films – I recommend those, because they’re also a lot of fun. His scenes were cut out of The Big Chill (1983), for a good reason that had nothing to do with his performance, but too bad kind of.)

The Untouchables has every kind of camera trick, it looks great, and the soundtrack is stirring, fitting the moods perfectly. It’s a bit violent, but otherwise I’d recommend it especially if there’s more than one person watching; it’s appropriate for almost anybody. Of course, the best way to see it is opening night, in a packed theater, but that ship sailed if you’re reading this and you haven’t seen it yet. Great ending, upbeat, the good guys win.

September 10, 1987