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
When Melvin Purvis shoots down Pretty Boy Floyd, he asks Floyd for info on the whereabouts of Harry Campbell. In reality, Floyd was never associated with Campbell who robbed banks with Alvin Carpis and "Ma" Barker's sons. The reason for this question may've been to simplify the narrative of the story. In real life, "Pretty Boy" Floyd was wanted by the FBI for his alleged part in the "Kansas City Massacre" on June 17th, 1933 in which an FBI agent, two Kansas policemen, a retired Oklahoma sheriff, and their captive Frank "Jelly" Nash, were ambushed and killed. This was the crime that set into motion the rise of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI and the start of the "War On Crime". Since this fact would (or could) possibly make the story on film more convoluted, the film makers instead have Purvis question Floyd about Campbell rather than the massacre as he did in real life. See more »
In the room where the FBI agents suit up in preparation for catching John Dillinger at 1148 Addison, a red, modern-looking exit sign is noticeable. See more »
Last Title Card:
Melvin Purvis quit the FBI a year later and died by his own hand in 1960. Billie Frechette was released in 1936 and lived the rest of her life in Wisconsin.
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The title of the movie is not shown until the end credits. See more »
Eighty years after the events, Michael Mann takes on the Period Chicago Gangster genre, and wins, with this entertaining story. Do not be put off by some churlish carping from the critics, much of which is generated by the very high standards that Mann's films are now judged. The lengthy 140 minute running time flies by leaving the audience wondering about what could have been added to the story, not what should have been omitted.
Essentially this is the story of the life, in his heyday, and death of Gangster John Dillinger. It bounces along, leaving little room for back story or leisurely character development, like Dillinger,it lives for the moment. Johhny Depp is superb as Dillinger, Christian Bale a thoroughly convincing Melvin Purvis, his taciturn but determined G-Man nemesis.
A plot curio is that some time is given over to J Edgar Hoover's fight to establish an FBI with Purvis operating as his local enforcer.But the role is under developed, it could be dropped with no impact on the plot, making you wonder how much extra footage was left on the cutting room floor, hopefully set for an appearance on the DVD.
Marion Cotillard, a native Frenchwoman, plays the part of the leading lady, and Dillingers love interest, well enough. In a role which offers infrequent appearances, she conforms to the genre requirements of being easily bedded, hit, and cries on demand.
Critics have queried the way that the digital film is shot.There is none of the lushness of "last of the Mohicans", nor the grittiness of "Collateral", but the compelling plot leaves little time to worry about that.Review audiences also complained of poor sound quality and mumbled dialogue, not faults that I could identify with on this showing.
The "showdown" between Dillinger and Purvis happens early on, in a scene which is played straight and without lingering fanfare, it is certainly no re-run of De Niro v Pacino in "Heat".If the film lacks anything it is a sense of Tragedy, so wonderfully apparent in De Palma's "Carlitos Way". Depp and Purvis are played so ruthlessly and efficiently by Depp and Bale that pathos and emotional attachment are on pretty short display.
The period is lovingly recreated by Mann and the action sequences, unsurprisingly, never fail to disappoint, indeed when Dillinger is first shown robbing a bank his vault over the counter is seen in graceful slow motion. Diana Krall has a pleasing cameo as a nightclub torch singer performing "Bye Bye Blackbird" and the costumes are a consistent delight.
Punchy, light on its feet and offering weighty roles for Depp and Bale, this will be enjoyed by ardent fans and the curious alike.
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