During Prohibition, Al Capone (Robert De Niro) has nearly the whole city of Chicago under his control and supplies liquor at high prices. Bureau of Prohibition agent Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner), summoned to stop Capone, conducts raids using a large squad of officers. After his efforts fail due to corrupt policemen tipping off Capone, he meets incorruptible Irish American officer Jim Malone (Sean Connery) and is told to enlist men from the police academy who have not yet come under Capone’s influence.
Italian American trainee George Stone (Andy García), is enlisted due to his superior marksmanship and intelligence. They are joined by accountant Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith), assigned to Ness from Washington, D.C.
Wallace informs Ness that Capone has not filed an income tax return in four years; therefore, they can try Capone for tax evasion. Ness is visited by an alderman who tries to bribe him into dropping the investigation, but Ness throws him out. When Frank Nitti (Billy Drago) threatens Ness’s family, Ness has them moved to a safer place, then takes the team to the Canada – United States border for a raid on a liquor shipment.
Ness chases one of the gangsters into an empty house and kills him in self-defense. Malone captures George (Sullivan), a Capone bookkeeper, and brings him back to the house for interrogation. George proves uncooperative, so Malone grabs the dead man and shoots him to coerce George into cooperating, much to the dismay of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who have assisted in the raid.
At the police station, Nitti kills Wallace and George and writes “touchable” on the wall in Wallace’s blood. Ness angrily confronts Capone and his men, but Malone intervenes, as Capone mocks Ness over the death of his friend. Malone persuades Ness to stall the district attorney (Clinton James) from dropping the case, then corners policeman Mike Dorsett, who sold out Wallace and George to Capone.
Malone learns about another Capone accountant, Walter Payne, and calls Ness with the news. A knife-wielding thug breaks into Malone’s home; Malone forces him out the front door with a shotgun, but steps into an ambush set up by Nitti who guns him down with a Tommy gun. He lives long enough for Ness and Stone to find him, and shows them which train Payne will take out of town before he dies.
Director: Brian De Palma
Year of Release: 1987
Character to watch: Robert De Niro as Al Capone.
Journal your answers to the following questions after you watch the movie.
- How does this particular character’s journey compare with yours?
- Did the character develop certain characteristics during the movie that you have or that you would like to have? If so, what are those characteristics?
- What obstacles did this character face? What was his or her biggest challenge?
- What would you have done differently if you had been in the same position as the character?
- Is this character the type of person you would be friends with? Why or why not?