Click here 3 stars
Andy Garcia, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Charles Martin Smith Bang,

Kevin Costner gets blown off the screen
by better actors in a gangster shoot-'em-up

"The Untouchables"

Reviewed by John Orr

(Click on the images to see larger version and credits.
Note: All we could get was B&W publicity stills, to which we have added some color tones. The movie itself is in full color. )

Sean Connery, Kevin CostnerIf it weren't for the fact that people have to spend their hard-earned simoleons to get into theaters, it wouldn't be a problem that Kevin Costner sometimes takes on roles that are wrong for him.

Give Costner the right role, and he's swell. He's worth watching in "Silverado," "Bull Durham" and "Tin Cup," and proved himself an excellent filmmaker with "Dances With Wolves."

Give him the wrong role, and ya gotta wonder how he ever got past his first screen test. "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" is the only needed example, but there are others.

Kevin Costner, Billy DragoSuch as "The Untouchables."

There are good performances in this film — Robert De Niro is a monster as Al Capone; Sean Connery is fabulous as an honest old cop. Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia and Patricia Clarkson are all excellent, and every single one of them absolutely blows Costner right off the screen.

Brian DePalma, Robert De NiroWatching this film for the first time since it came out in 1987, I kept wanting to shout at the screen, "Wake up, Kevin! They're making a movie, and you're in it!"

Really, the biggest disappointment of the DVD version of "The Untouchables" is that it doesn't include a making-of feature — it would be fun to learn what kind of filmmaking tricks director Brian De Palma used to prop up the sleeping Costner while filming was under way.

A team of puppeteers was probably needed — ya know, someone to make his eyes blink, to move his lips, etc.

But, eh. He provides scenery, and other actors almost make up for Costner's lack of movement and screen magnetism.

The film is nicely written, directed and photographed, with de Palma shining at setting scenes and doing lots of nice things with violence. Blood and bullets abound.

It is the story of T-man Elliott Ness, who's been assigned to taking down Al Capone at the time of his greatest strength — the prohibition era.

Billy Drago, Robert De NiroDe Niro rips up the screen as Capone, especially when he doesn't have to hold back to keep Costner from disappearing altogether. He swings a mean bat in one particularly grisly scene.

Capone has lots of cops on the payroll, so one of Ness' first challenges is to recruit a team of non-corrupted officers — the "untouchables." He and Connery's old cop meet cute on a bridge, and Smith and Garcia join the team.

They quickly have a victory, and then the real war begins, with Capone wanting Ness DEAD, with capital D, E, A and D.

Connery provides the very best performance, which is no surprise; while he is on screen, this is almost a wonderful movie.

Charles Martin Smith, Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Andy GarciaYes, that big scene toward the end of the film owes almost everything to Sergei Eisenstein and his great film "The Battleship Potemkin," which is OK. People ought to be reminded of that magnificent film, and maybe De Palma ripping off a scene from it will encourage people to see it sometime.

If Costner had put some energy into this film, it might have been a pretty good piece of work. But with a block of wood instead of an actor at its heart, this film just can't keep a pulse.

Well, it's not likely to show up in a theater anytime soon. If you are curious, rent it before buying; you may kick youself if you buy it.

DVD Notes: Wide-screen format. Includes the original trailer, a chapter list, subtitles in English and soundtrack in English and French. No other special features or interviews.

DVD at
VHS widescreen at

See cast, credit and other details about "The Untouchables" at Internet Movie Data Base.