(1987)

What are you prepared to do?

Young Treasury Agent Elliot Ness arrives in Chicago and is determined to take down Al Capone, but it's not going to be easy because Capone has the police in his pocket. Ness meets Jimmy Malone, a veteran patrolman and probably the most honorable one on the force. He asks Malone to help him get Capone, but Malone warns him that if he goes after Capone, he is going to war.

Never stop fighting till the fight is done, here endeth the lesson.
As good a gangster movie that has ever been made as DePalma does justice to Mamet's electric script. The acting on show is right out of the top draw, the inevitable ease that DeNiro puts menace into Capone is quite impressive, whilst the fresh faced pugnacious tenacity of Andy Garcia's George Stone is something of a delightful experience. Yet that is not enough because we still need the central actors to carry the film if it is going to triumph. Connery is a given performance wise (accent aside of course, but then again who cares when the character portrayal is as sharp as it is here?) but it is Costner as Eliot Ness that shines like the star he was soon to become, it's a magic performance that manages to fuse genuine tenderness of family love with little trips to the dark side in pursuit of making good triumph over evil.
I love that the film is showing how violence and fear affects families, mother and child is a theme that is central to the film's heartbeat, notice how some of the more violent scenes are followed by tender scenes of Ness and his family. The set pieces here are attention grabbing entertainment, a roaring Canadian border rumpus and a smashing roof top pursuit and face off are top value, but it's DePalma gold watching a brilliant Battleship Potemkin homage at the Union train station that takes the cake as the film enters the last quarter. Surely historical facts does not matter when films are as sharp as this one is?. It's frightening, touching, and even witty. So for me at least, the film is 10/10 in every department (and yes, even with Sean's accent).
Footnote: The academy saw fit to nominate Ennio Morricone for his wonderful score, yet strangely he used some of it for the main theme in John Carpenter's 1982 film "The Thing", they must have missed it that time I presume! Must be the genre angle one thinks...

Paramount by Brian De Palma, David Mamet, Oscar Fraley, Eliot Ness.
Stars: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Robert De Niro.

Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller

Keywords: chicago, illinois prohibition era gangster baseball bat white suit tough cop treasury agent untouchable tax evasion jury tampering 1930s

06/03/1987

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