Where I Watched It: HBo MAX
English Audio Description?: Yes
I do like to catch up on some classics from time to time, and this one that landed Sean Connery that elusive Oscar has always been on my list. Like most gangster films, especially those based in reality, The untouchables has it’s own following, and while I can see why in parts, I can also just see this as something we probably don’t need to keep touting as cinematic glory.
The thing that hurt me more than anything was that I really did not like the score to this film. i found it actually rather distracting. Often times, it was used to build the mood, but it was so loud, and often it started building an obvious sense of dread so much ahead of what it needed, it almost ruins the entire scene. The famous baby stroller scene is well shot, I’m sure, but you spend forever feeling like Jaws is going to jump out of the water. And then, because it’s going on for so long, the only place it can go is to just progressively crescendo until the score is so dramatically loud that it’s distracting from the action at hand.
I say this, and I thought this, and then I saw Ennio Morricone. I had that “oh shit” moment in my mind, where I was looking at an Oscar nominated movie, that many consider a classic, and the first thing I wanted to discuss in my review was the bizarre scoring choices of one of the most legendary composers. I feel like I’ve reached this point in the review where already someone is mad at me. But, it doesn’t change the fact that at least from my perspective, as a blind film critic, the score was killing this movie for me.
Never mind the other facts that while the film itself is directed by Brian De Palma, who is able to take this true story, and lay it out in the fashion that keeps you engaged even when not everything in the film works. There’s really nothing special about kevin Costner’s performance here, and he’s been better at other points in his career. And, for what its worth, Sean Connery does bring a certain amount of wisdom to a role that needed it, but seeing this and realizing it won an Oscar feels like one of those “it was his time” votes. Finally, DeNiro is really just perfecting his typical DeNiro persona. There’s nothing special about his Al Capone, and in the pantheon of DeNiro performances, he had been better before (The Godfather part II, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver), and would go on to deliver many more nuanced performances long after.
Basically, the acting is fine. Nothing special. Just fine. What makes this film interesting is the true story element and de Palma’s direction, but what hurts it is the heavy handed Morricone score that seems oddly inappropriate at times. It’s still worth watching, but if you never get around to it, that would be fine as well.
Final Grade: B