The Untouchables – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review

Amazon Commissions Earned


Film Title: The Untouchables (1987)
Release Date: 2022
Rating: R
Runtime: 119 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Paramount
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos
High Dynamic Range: HDR10 / Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Amazon Commissions Earned
Release Date: 5/31/22
Director: Brian De Palma
Cast: Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, Charles Martin Smith, Andy Garcia, Robert De Niro, Billy Drago, Patricia Clarkson, Richard Bradford, Jack Kehoe, Brad Sullivan

Jump to Sections:
Movie | Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom

click to view a 4K Screenshot

The Movie

“The Untouchables” was a crime drama from 1987 based on the real-life story of Eliot Ness taking down kingpin Al Capone in Chicago back in the 1930s, during prohibition.  And, if you’ve never seen it, don’t get upset as that’s not a “spoiler” when this is after all a historical piece. How did he take him down? Well, this film tells a bit about that but it also uses some fictitious characters along the way, which I’ll discuss a bit further below.

The film was directed by Brian De Palma, best known for directing films like “Phantom of the Paradise” (1974), “Carrie” (1976), “Dressed to Kill” (1980), “Scarface” (1983), “The Bonfire of the Vanities” (1990), “Carlito’s Way” (1993), “Mission: Impossible” (1996), and “Snake Eyes” (1998). Some of those (aforementioned) films De Palma wrote. However, he did not write the screenplay for this film.

This, a true story, was based on [suggested by] the book of the same title written by Oscar Fraley and Eliot Ness. The screenplay adaptation was written by David Mamet, best known for also writing the screenplays for other films like “The Verdict” (1982), “We’re No Angels” (1989), “Glengarry Glen Ross” (1992), “Hoffa” (1992), “Wag the Dog” (1996), “Ronin” (1998), and “Hannibal” (2001).  Mamet also wrote and directed the films “House of Games” (1987), “Things Change” (1988), “Homicide” (1991), “Oleanna” (1994), “The Spanish Prisoner” (1997), “State and Main” (2000), “Heist” (2001), “Spartan” (2004), and “Redbelt” (2008).

Kevin Costner stars in the leading role of Eliot Ness, at that time a treasury officer and prohibition agent for the United States government in the town of Chicago.  Ness forms a group that would become known as “The Untouchables” [hence the title] and that meant they couldn’t be bribed by corrupt members of the city or organized crime groups such as the one ran by the notorious Al Capone (portrayed in the film by Robert De Niro).  Alphonse Capone was the original “Scarface” and a crime boss [businessman] who made smuggling alcohol during the Prohibition era most famous and was a total braggart to the Chicago press about it.  It’s safe to say that he felt he was the one that was untouchable — pun intended.

Joining Ness in his group of Untouchables, in the film here, you have a veteran Chicago police officer named “Jimmy Malone” (Sean Connery), a smart accountant named “Oscar Wallace” (Charles Martin Smith), and a sharpshooter rookie police officer by the name of “George Stone” (Andy Garcia).  Together with these three other men [a group of fictitious characters based on real people] Eliot Ness will take on Al Capone who figures himself as the unofficial mayor of Chicago circa 1930.  Keep in mind, that all of this was a true story and in real life, Capone was put away for something you’d least expect considering he was known to be a violent criminal.

Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)


click to view a 4K Screenshot

Video Quality

“The Untouchables” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio with HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range. It is worth noting that IMDb states the film was originally theatrically presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, so there’s an ever-so-slight change in framing here on the latest home video release. This movie was shot on 35mm film using the Panavision Panaflex Gold camera and Panavision C-Series anamorphic lenses.

Next, let me get technical, for a bit, in regards to the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc itself here. This release is using a BD-66 (66 gigabytes) disc, 58.42 gigabytes total, and 53.3 gigabytes for the film itself. Let’s take a look back at the original 2007 Blu-ray Disc release of the film. That release was using a BD-50 (50 gigabytes) disc, 35.84 gigabytes total, and 32.1 gigabytes for the film itself.  So, the 4K version is just over one and a half times as large as the original HD version.  Based on my observations via my 4K UHD Blu-ray player, this seems to be running an average (roughly) of 52Mbps in the HEVC (high-efficiency video coding) codec, hitting as high as 84Mbps at times.

Now, I want to do a visual comparison here between the original Blu-ray and the 4K UHD Blu-ray. So, I’ll be offering you the still screenshots for both the 2007 Blu-ray Disc and the new 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray releases.  For those who want to see more Blu-ray VS. 4K screenshots, click the text below.

Blu-ray VS. 4K Screenshots Comparison:

SOURCES: 2007 Blu-ray (left), 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)

As you can tell, the original 2007 Blu-ray had an excessive amount of DNR (digital noise reduction) and edge enhancement used in comparison to the new 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray.  Also, you’ll notice that now [in 4K] you are able to see a more healthy amount of film grain and the detail looks as sharp as it naturally should.  Some definite changes to the color timing have been made here, for the better, and appear much more lifelike.  Lastly, you might notice that the original Blu-ray was using the 2.35:1 aspect ratio (as mentioned) whereas this new 4K is using a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, and has taller black bars at the top and bottom.  There are also some framing changes here in comparison to the original Blu-ray, all of which look much better on this 4K in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio.

All and all, “The Untouchables” on 4K UHD Blu-ray in terms of the visual presentation comes as a much-deserved upgrade over the previous Blu-ray release.  This earns itself every bit of an impressive 4.5 rating for video quality.  Paramount has visually done the film justice, to which I say congratulations on a job well done.

Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


click to view a 4K Screenshot

Audio Quality

“The Untouchables” arrives on 4K UHD Blu-ray in Dolby Atmos, with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core — for those not able to decode the Atmos. This new sound mix comes as one definite improvement, considering that the original 2007 Blu-ray only included lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 discrete surround mixes. Now, with this latest home video release of the film, you do not only get a lossless mix but you also get an immersive audio experience via the Dolby Atmos format.

Just from hearing the magnificent original Score (composed by Ennio Morricone) during the opening credits, you’ll notice how much more oomph this Dolby Atmos mix delivers in comparison to the previous mixes, especially in terms of LFE which you’ll be feeling primarily via the subwoofer. Both those lossy AC3 and DTS mixes were just ported over from the previous DVD to that 2007 Blu-ray, and never really felt like they were coming anywhere close to doing this movie and its original music justice. For the music, it’s using the front left & right to deliver the majority of the score, as well as height channels a tad bit and most definitely those rear channels (albeit on either a 5.1.x or 7.1.x configuration).

Once the film starts up you’ll notice that dialogue is delivered distinctly from the center channel. It feels a tad bit clearer than it ever did before and has a bit more range, thanks to being lossless finally. The action here such as vehicles (namely trucks early on) and eventually things like gunfire come across very clearly and make excellent use of both the height and rear channels to feel like it’s coming from behind or above. Above was never an option before, with those discrete 6.1 surround mixes found on the original Blu-ray.

At right around the 35-minute mark, as Ness and his men are about to enter a building and walk down the Chicago streets, you’ll hear the bright sound of horns in the original Ennio Morricone musical score getting this beautifully fitting amount of height channel use that really adds so much, via the Dolby Atmos. These subtle yet effective type of things help to immerse you in this story and time period, and makes it where you’re more than ever before experiencing it as the filmmaker and composer intended, as something to overwhelm you in a larger way than 6.1 discrete lossy surround allowed for [on that original Blu-ray], and gives you an idea of what to expect later on. I won’t spoil this film, for those who haven’t seen it before, but let’s just say that a scene involving a baseball bat has never had so much impact. This new Atmos mix swings for the fences and nearly hit a grand slam. And, we’re not even halfway through the damn film yet here! It only continues to impress you as the film progresses along.

All and all, “The Untouchables” on 4K UHD Blu-ray earns itself an impressive 4.5 rating for audio quality and serves as one definite improvement over the previous [original] 2007 Blu-ray release of the film.

Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


click to view a 4K Screenshot

Bonus Materials

  • A Digital Copy of the film is included via a paper insert with redeem code, which is compatible with either AppleTV (iTunes) or Vudu.  If you opt for AppleTV you’ll get the 4K version of the film with HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of high dynamic range but you only get a 5.1 surround mix and not the Atmos found on this 4K disc.  Also, the iTunes Extras include an exclusive Photo Gallery.  I’m not sure if you get these same extras over on Vudu, as I opted for Apple for the digital copy.

Bonus materials included on the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc are listed below.  These are all in SD (standard definition 480p) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound unless otherwise noted.

  • “The Script, The Cast” (18 minutes, 31 seconds – SD) features on-set photography, behind the scenes and on-set footage, and interviews with Brian De Palma (director), Art Linson (producer), Kevin Costner (Eliot Ness), Charles Martin Smith (Oscar Wallace), Andy Garcia (George Stone), and Sean Connery (Jimmy Malone). Both the director (Brian De Palma) and producer (Art Linson) admit they were actually not even fans of the TV series and really did not try to make the film anything like it. It’s certainly worth noting that Mel Gibson was originally interested in the lead role but decided to go make another film. Bob Hoskins was originally considered for the role of Al Capone, but inevitably Brian De Palma wanted Robert De Niro for the role, as they had worked together in the past, and he was able to convince him to take the part. But, then the filmmakers had some budget issues with the studio and were afraid they couldn’t make the film with De Niro, but thankfully that problem was resolved. The rest is history. Sean Connery admits that he took the job [role] after learning that David Mamet had written the script.
  • “Production Stories” (17 minutes, 18 seconds – SD) includes behind-the-scenes and on-set footage as well as interviews [stories] with Brian De Palma (director), Stephen H. Burum, A.S.C. (director of photography), Sean Connery (Jimmy Malone), Patrizia Von Brandenstein (visual consultant), Charles Martin Smith (Oscar Wallace), and Kevin Costner (Eliot Ness). At first, you’ll learn that the DP (director of photography) Stephen H. Burum wanted to shoot this movie in Black & White, which he was quickly told he could not. So, Burum came up with another style and approach that he pitched to director Brian De Palma. It’s also amazing how much of Chicago they were actually able to use during modern times, as you’ll hear about here. There’s a bit of discussion about how the famous fashion designer Giorgio Armani designed the costumes for everyone but Connery’s character (Malone).
  • “Re-Inventing the Genre” (14 minutes, 24 seconds – SD) includes interviews with Brian De Palma (director), Charles Martin Smith (Oscar Wallace), Kevin Costner (Eliot Ness), Stephen H. Burum, A.S.C. (director of photography), and Art Linson (producer). Director Brian De Palma admits that John Ford’s films served as an obvious inspiration, which you can definitely see at times — especially during the scenes supposed to take place at the Canadian border. The climactic action sequence in the film was actually different from how screenwriter David Mamet, as it would have required too much of a budget. So that famous scene was written and improvised by De Palma as they were filming.
  • “The Classic” (5 minutes, 39 seconds – SD) includes interviews with Brian De Palma (director), Stephen H. Burum, A.S.C. (director of photography), Charles Martin Smith (Oscar Wallace), and Art Linson (producer). De Palma discusses working with composer Ennio Morricone here early on. Also, the film’s cinematographer and co-star Charles Martin Smith briefly discuss the original musical score as well. Finally, they all discuss the success of the film. This dated as being from 2004 and was featured on the DVD release back then, along with these other extras listed.
  • “Original Featurette: The Men” (5 minutes, 26 seconds – SD) is an older featurette — as the title suggests. This features behind-the-scenes footage, on-set footage, clips from the film, as well as interviews with the primary cast of Kevin Costner (Eliot Ness), Sean Connery (Jimmy Malone), Andy Garcia (George Stone), and Charles Martin Smith (Oscar Wallace).
  • Theatrical Trailer (2 minutes, 49 seconds – HD) isn’t listed on the back of the packaging but is included.

Overall, the bonus materials here consist of just Blu-ray extras ported over to the 4K UHD Blu-ray, which date back as far as the DVD and are over an hour in length. There’s nothing new here but it’s nice to see that they have included all of the extras on the 4K disc — considering that this set lacks the original Blu-ray release. That’s something I’m not honestly too happy about, but that’s all I’m complaining about here. They include a digital copy of the film [in 4K] which is a nice addition and enough to make me almost forget there’s not a Blu-ray counterpart.

Bonus Materials Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)


click to view a 4K Screenshot

Closing Thoughts

Celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, “The Untouchables” from 1987 was one of the best films from a year with so many modern classics. The combination of Brian De Palma directing and David Mamet writing the screenplay was perfect. And then you had the amazing performances from the cast. It’s most certainly worth pointing out that Sean Connery actually won his only ‘Oscar’ (Academy Award) for “best supporting actor” in this film. Of course, Kevin Costner gives one unforgettable performance in the leading role.  Plus, Robert De Niro really put his all into playing Al Capone here. Both actors Andy Garcia and Charles Martin Smith also gave amazing performances here in their supporting roles.

In terms of video quality, this really comes as a drastic change for the better with the aspect ratio now in 2.40:1 with larger black bars at the top and bottom as well as some framing changes.  The amount of film grain present now is just beautiful and gives you that cinematic feel that was missing back in 2007.  Some of the scenes may look admittedly a bit softer than others but that has to honestly do with the camera and the lenses that were used, as well as perhaps the anamorphic cinematic process.  It looks downright impressive.

In terms of audio quality, Paramount Home Entertainment did a great job in improving things by finally giving you a lossless surround mix as the core to an immersive Dolby Atmos sound mix.  The Atmos here is able to present the original music composed by Ennio Morricone in so much more of an impressive manner, where it truly feels to immerse you into the film from the very opening title all the way up until the end credits.  The dialogue is delivered spot-on, sound effects come across as more realistic than ever before and there’s a definite boost in the amount of LFE.

The bonus materials here are just ported over SD (standard definition) extras from the previous Blu-ray and essentially DVD release(s) which total up to roughly 63 minutes without including the trailer.  There’s a digital copy included, which is nice, but sadly you do not get a Blu-ray counterpart with this release.

All and all, “The Untouchables” on 4K UHD Blu-ray is a substantial refinement and merits an upgrade from the previous Blu-ray for any fan of this modern classic.  This comes as definitely A Recommended Upgrade.

In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials


Overall Verdict:
A Recommended Upgrade

Available As:

2022 4K UHD Blu-ray Release

2022 4K UHD Blu-ray SteelBook Release

Amazon Commissions Earned

4K UHD Blu-ray Screenshots:

Blu-ray VS. 4K Screenshots Comparison:

SOURCES: 2007 Blu-ray (left), 2022 4K UHD Blu-ray (right)


Packaging:


4K UHD Blu-ray Technical Specifications:

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Exact Runtime(s): 1:59:26
Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, Czech, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian
Subtitles: English, Czech, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Romanian, Slovak, Finnish, Swedish, Thai
HDR: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Disc Size: BD-66
Disc Use: 58.42GB total / 53.3GB for the film