Brian De Palma’s American crime film The Untouchables (1987) celebrates 35 years with its first presentation on 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray. The single-disc edition from Paramount Home Entertainment (Release Date: May 31, 2022) includes a 4k Blu-ray and a code to redeem a Digital Copy.
The Untouchables was nominated20 for a total of four Academy Awards, taking home one Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (Sean Connery, his only Oscar). The film was written by David Mamet based on the book of the same name written by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley about the government’s attempt to bring ruthless gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) to justice during the Prohibition period.
Kevin Costner plays the role of Eliot Ness, a federal agent who recruits a small group subsequently named “The Untouchables” that consists of Chicago beat cop Jim Malone (Connery), marksman George Stone (Andy Garcia), and tax agent Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith).
“You can get further with a kind word and a gun, than you can with just a kind word.”
On 4k Blu-ray, The Untouchables in presented in 2160p with HDR offered in both Dolby Vision and HDR10. The BT.2020 10-bit video streamed at an average of about 50Mbps, often in the 40Mbps range and at times in the higher 50Mbps range..
There isn’t much dynamic range in the video image. The movie has a vintage look with heavy shadows (and not many details in those shadows), flat color, and not much contrast, but the overall look of the film is not unlike similar gangster-genre films such as The Godfather and Scarface.
The Untouchables was filmed in 35mm (with prints made in 70mm) so the potential for a high-quality 4k remaster is there. We didn’t get much information about the restoration process or new remastering, but the video certainly looks like it was derived from new scans into a 4k DI. You’ll notice some excellent sharpness levels in the newspaper headlines that are often part of the shots, as well as in the details of clothing patterns, wallpaper, and matchbooks.
The English audio track offers Dolby Atmos / Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channels at 48kHz. The dialogue is crisp, music well-balanced, and sound elements (such as gunshots, car crashes, etc.) clean for the most part, although sometimes out of place. However, a Dolby Atmos 7.1 channel mix seems to be overkill for a movie of this genre. Why not leave it as more of a frontal 5.1 channel approach? It should be noted the theatrical audio was printed on 70mm in a 4.1 mix.
One of the best scenes in the movie takes place at the train station [Chap. 20 approx. 1:26] when Eliot Ness (Costner) and George Stone (Garcia) go to meet the bookkeeper. The quiet lobby is interrupted by a baby crying and the train announcer’s projected voice bounces from left to right. Soon, the reverberating sounds of gunshots fill the echoed space.
In the following scene at the courthouse a chase scene ensues. The scene is driven mainly by the music score by Ennio Morricone but interrupted by gunfire. At 1:43 there is an immersive sound (one of the few in the movie, even given the Atmos mix) when the assassin shoots out a light fixture and the sound of breaking glass has a spatial quality to it that utilizes multiple speaker placements.
The 4k Blu-ray edition includes over an hour of legacy bonus content, so it won’t be getting as high a score as other 4k releases that offer new extras. Still though, the bonus content is available on the 4k disc and that’s always a good thing. The extras include The Script, The Cast, Production Stories, Re-Inventing the Genre, The Classic, Original Featurette: The Men, and theatrical trailer. There is also a code to redeem a Digital Copy, available in 4k with Dolby Vision HDR where available after redeeming via ParamountMovies.com and chosing either iTunes or Vudu.
The Untouchables on 4k Blu-ray is available in a standard plastic case or 4k SteelBook edition. The SteelBook is obviously the more desired and collectible version, with new artwork on the front, back, and inside. There is also a Collectible Edition available in the UK from Zavvi that includes a mini-poster, art cards, and Untouchables business cards.