The Untouchables Prequel – In need of a young Capone

The Untouchables
The Untouchables

I realize the irony given what I said in my previous post, but if there’s ever a follow-up to a film I’m rather excited about, it’d be The Untouchables: Capone Rising. I thought the 1987’s The Untouchables was one of the best crime dramas with a classic David vs. Goliath story set in the prohibition era. It took 20 years for Brian De Palma to announce he’s going to do a follow-up (but as a prequel) to the film.

In 2006, the director announced that he’d be back to helm the prequel, which would center on the story of the notorious Chicago mobster’s rise to power and his relationship with the Irish-American cop Jimmy Malone. Nicholas Cage was cast as the young Capone, opposite Scottish (but of Irish-descent) Gerard Butler as Malone. Though Capone was such a powerful character (which De Niro depicted masterfully), the heart of the film belonged to Malone as Eliot Ness’ mentor. So I was excited to learn that the prequel script explores how Malone wasn’t always the good, incorruptible cop. In fact, he was just as crooked as the rest until he realized the reach of Capone’s power and had a change of heart. That would’ve been another great classic, especially when De Palma promised to keep it consistent with the original, using the same score from Ennio Morricone and the same Chicago locations.

Alas, Nicholas Cage has since bailed due to ‘scheduling conflict,’ which caused the entire project to be in limbo for nearly three years. I completely forgot about it until this past weekend when I read a page-long interview with Butler in the August issue of Total Film. He expressed his regret that since Cage walked off, the project’s been put in the back burner. ‘It’s the best script I’ve ever read, so it’s kind of sad,’ he said. Sounds like he’s still keen on doing the project though, which is a good thing.

I don’t exactly feel sorry that Cage walked off, for one he’s sort of lost his ‘serious actor’ card long ago ever since he did Ghost Rider, Bangkok Dangerous, Knowing, etc. Besides, Cage would’ve been too old for the role—if they follow the chronology right, if Malone is about late 30s in the prequel, Capone would need to be somewhere in the mid 20s. There was rumor circulating that perhaps Cage didn’t want to share equal screen time with less-known Butler as the script required. Whatever the reason, I hope they find the right actor to play Capone. I can see their conundrum, considering how tough it was to even get De Niro for the original. Whoever they cast would not only need to look the part, but also has the acting chops to pull off such a complex role, as well as some box office prowes to help sell a movie. As fitting as Butler would be for the role of Jimmy Malone, his isn’t a big enough marquee name to carry the flick on his own buff shoulders.

There are some interesting suggestions in response to Ain’t It Cool report on this back in ’07, some better that others, but not sure any of them could live up to De Niro, IMO.

What do you think folks, are you hot or cold on this project? And who do you think should play the young Capone?