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Public Enemies (2009)

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  1 July 2009 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 220,260 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 582 user | 352 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Judd ...
John Kishline ...
John Scherp ...
Elena Kenney ...
William Nero Jr. ...


This is the story of the last few years of the notorious bank robber John Dillinger. He loved what he did and could imagine little else that would make him happier. Living openly in 1930s Chicago, he had the run of the city with little fear of reprisals from the authorities. It's there that he meets Billie Frechette with whom he falls deeply in love. In parallel we meet Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent who would eventually track Dillinger down. The FBI was is in its early days and Director J. Edgar Hoover was keen to promote the clean cut image that so dominated the organization through his lifetime. Purvis realizes that if he is going to get Dillinger, he will have to use street tactics and imports appropriate men with police training. Dillinger is eventually betrayed by an acquaintance who tells the authorities just where to find him on a given night. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


America's Most Wanted

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for gangster violence and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

1 July 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Enemigos públicos  »

Box Office


$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$25,271,675 (USA) (3 July 2009)


$97,030,725 (USA) (28 August 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Dillinger is shown serenading his hostages while driving away from the prison escape by singing "The Last Round-Up". "The Last Round-Up" was published in 1933. It became songwriter Billy Hill's biggest hit. It wasn't long before the song became No. 1 and stayed there for 9 weeks. According to Lee Hill Taylor, while her father was working on a ranch in Montana he asked one of the cowboys why they continued to ride in a round-up when they got older. The cowboy told him there was a time when they had to stop and that would be their "last round-up." Right after their brief conversation this cowboy was riding his horse and was accidentally knocked off and trampled to death. Hill never forgot that terrible accident and used it as the basis for his memorable song. See more »


The Thompson sub-machine guns in the movie use period-correct 20 round 'stick' magazines and 50-round 'drum' magazines. Despite appearances resulting from some quick shots and deceptive angles, no 30-round World War 2 issued magazines appear, as none were procured by the film armorers. See more »


John 'Red' Hamilton: We don't work with people we don't know. And you don't work when you're desperate. Walter Dietrich. Remember that?
John Dillinger: Walter forgot. When you're desperate, that's when you got no choice.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The title of the movie is not shown until the end credits. See more »


Bye Bye Blackbird
Music by Ray Henderson
Lyrics by Mort Dixon
Produced by Elliot Goldenthal, Matthias Gohl (as Teese Gohl)
Performed by Diana Krall twice
Courtesy of Verve Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Well-Made Cinematically, But Shallow
3 July 2009 | by (Louisiana) – See all my reviews

Who was John Dillinger? We all know he was a flamboyant criminal who robbed banks, but who WAS he? The question of who Dillinger WAS is far more interesting than the question of what Dillinger DID, but this film, sadly, chose only to concentrate seriously on the latter and gave up almost immediately on the former.

This film goes out of its way--with a poor grasp of history's time-line, by the way--to show us what Dillinger did and who he hung around with, but it does next to nothing to explore who Dillinger was as a person or even as a criminal. It hints that Dillinger might be a passionate lover and loyal friend, but shows us little evidence aside from a few thrown-together seduction scenes (which make his girlfriend/heroine look like a dim-witted pushover) and an awkward love scene.

Even Dillinger's foil, Melvin Purvis, is a mystery in Mann's hands. Did he care about justice at all, or was he just a fascist on a personal crusade? Was he competent in the least or was he just a bumbling idiot? Squinty-eyed stares can only convey so much, after all.

Michael Mann seems to be in a terrible hurry to tell this story, as he is stuck between the rock of having to relate a relatively complete "crime-ography" of a notorious American gangster and the hard place of keeping the movie shorter than 2 1/2 hours.

As a result, a beautifully shot and edited movie that had a lot of promise ends up little more than a dumb, shoot-'em-up action movie wearing the fedora of "historical romance." Good for a date, but not a serious film.

Grade: C+. Things to look for: Mann's ham-handed and laughably obvious political commentary on the use of torture about 2/3 of the way through the movie; psychotically trigger-happy Baby Face Nelson well-played by Stephen Graham; cool old products (Zenth radio); great fashion sense.

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Recent Posts
Worst cinematography in recent memory. backofthemind
Am I the only one who actually likes this movie? ritarams
Only the most ardent Mann fans will dispute this randywst16
What would be different if the events of the movie happened today? dmcreif
I hated Dillinger and wanted him to die. What did I miss? iamdoingthat
Why was Carey Mulligan in this movie? rediguana
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