The Untouchables (De Palma, 1987)

Aside from Dressed to Kill, The Untouchables is De Palma’s most accomplished and harrowing work, a brilliant gangster film obsessed with blurring the lines between Good (Costner’s baby faced Elliot Ness) and Evil (De Niro’s overweight Al Capone) and the brutal consequences of rash indifference within a corrupt institution.

The danger of contradiction begins to infect the characters as their actions grow more violent and extreme (Malone’s brutal tactics, Ness’ vengeful actions). De Palma’s stylish and flawless direction produces a glossy depiction of violence that is both unsettling and fascinating, while Morricone’s jarring score only adds to the artificiality of the whole. In short, a collection of Hollywood greatest hits made new again by a sometimes great and always savvy director working in top form.


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