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
Gang member John Hamilton, referred to as "Three Finger Jack" by the authorities, was missing two fingers on his right hand, and then lost yet a third finger of the same hand during the East Chicago bank job in January of '34. CGI wasn't employed for this detail in the film. Thus, the actor playing Hamilton has all of his digits. See more »
Digital is the world of Michael Man with all its drawbacks. It works up to a point, if you don't mind being distracted by the make up on the actors faces, pimples and blemishes. The final adventures on John Dillinger's life look and feel like a work of fiction and I suspect that in "Public Enemies" they are, 50/50, fact and fiction. Johnny Depp is marvelous no matter what and his is a star performance. There is only a vague approach to a real characterization, but I didn't care because I go wherever Johnny Depp wants to take me. It was like that with Gary Cooper too, wasn't it? Part of the sneaky narrative is to have Dillinger the criminal played by the angelic Depp and Purvis the noble FBI guy played by Christian Bale that emanates evil without even trying. If you're interested in performances, like I am, Billy Crudup is the thing in a sensational turn as J Edgar Hoover in spite of the digital thing, that makes him look as if Hoover suffered from some rare skin condition, damn shame if you ask me. Marion Cottillard is absolutely lovely but we knew that already and the rest of the characters remain an enigma, they enter and leave the scene without us ever having a clue who they are. Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Dorff, Jason Clark, who were they and Lelee Sobieski? It was startling to see her appear on the third act. Who was she suppose to be? In any case, the film has a Michael Mann feel and it's technically great. The shootings are extraordinary and Johnny Depp totally beautiful. I suppose that should be enough to applaud and recommend "Public Enemies". I did and I will even if, I must confess, I expected more or maybe less.
114 of 212 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?