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423 out of 645 people found the following review useful:

Well-Made Cinematically, But Shallow

5/10
Author: Eschete from Louisiana
3 July 2009

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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258 out of 325 people found the following review useful:

Hit and miss, mostly miss

6/10
Author: poc-1 from Cork, Ireland
2 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie tells the later stages of the crime career of John Dillinger, famous bank robber. What's good: Johnny Depp and Christian bale are good, the pacing is good, the sets and period detail are perfect. The score is quite good too.

What's bad: a shootout sequence is obviously shot on a video camera looks cheap and has a major discontinuity in it. Other scenes the camera is shaky.

Also for a movie that prides itself on historical detail, it plays fast and loose with the facts about the Dillinger gang. For instance the death of "Baby Face" Nelson is complete fiction. You are duped into thinking the director cares about historical details with all the period sets, cars, news stories on the radio etc, but actually major parts of the plot are just made up. Of course the reason that historical movies rarely follow history exactly is that real events don't naturally follow standard narrative.

So it is not a documentary, which is fine, so it must be a character movie right? This brings me to its biggest flaw. An important goal of a movie like this is to build an emotional connection with the central character. This ought to be easy with a character like Dillinger, because he actually built a huge public fan base as a latter day "Robin Hood", despite being a murderous bank robbing crook. It tries hard and it does get close, particularly with the scenes involving Billie, one of Dillinger's many girlfriends. In the end, though, I just did not care all that much about him..

It is competent, but ultimately it fails to match up in comparison with other movies of this genre. Right now the IMDb rating for this movie is higher than "The Untouchables", "Once Upon a Time in America" or "Goodfellas", which is a testament to the cinematic ignorance of the majority of IMDb voters. No doubt the same people will rate this comment down, probably without even reading it, simply because I did not give the movie a 9 or 10.

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268 out of 442 people found the following review useful:

John Dillinger- Public Enemy #1

7/10
Author: Billy_Costigan from United States
1 July 2009

The year is 1933, it's the Great Depression. A time for the desperate to do the unthinkable. Crime was on the rise and people were suffering. For John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) it was a time of infinite possibilities and opportunities. To combat the sharp incline in rampant criminal activity, J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) forms the FBI, led by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale). Together they target Dillinger as public enemy number one. Relying on new methods of intelligence gathering (such as tracking the purchase location of a coat or recording phone conversations), the firepower of trained gunmen, and his own relentless nature, Purvis gets closer and closer to Dillinger and company.

"I like baseball, movies, good clothes, fast cars... and you. What else do you need to know?" - John Dillinger. Johnny Depp IS John Dillinger. He's perfect for the role. The cool, confident and almost cocky nature of the character is really portrayed on screen (such as bragging to reporters about his bank jobs and teasing Purvis and agents who are after him). It's a look of how a man lived and succeeded in a hard time. Dillinger was a man that lived in the moment as only a man in the depression could. From the worlds on John Dillinger, "I'm to busy having fun today to even think about tomorrow." Who knows what tomorrow might bring? Bale also succeeds in his role and is a solid counterpart against Depp. It works well having two top, well known actors opposing each other on screen.

The film is directed by Michael Mann who brought us such films as Heat, The Insider, and Collateral and he adds another good film to his resume with this one. The action sequences, bank heists, and shootouts in this film are probably the biggest highlights. After all, this is from the same guy who gave us one of the most famous and arguably the best shootout of all time in Heat. The sequences are cool, slick, and gritty. Excellence at it's best. (I have to throw in a note of praise for the superb shootout at the Little Bohemia lodge, which was an extremely impressive scene)

The cat and mouse aspect makes it intriguing, but I think more could have been added to it. It just feels as if something was missing. Much of the film focuses on the love story between Dillinger and Billie Frechette (Marion Cottillard) It's also interesting to see the other gangsters of this time and how they relate to Dillinger and the criminal world.

Much has been made of Public Enemies being filmed on HD video, mostly complaints. I must say that at times, the picture looked amazing. The night sequences, especially looked beautifully slick and realistic. I loved the cinematography here. The cars, headlights, street lights, and everything looked fantastic. Other times, it doesn't look as good. It just felt as if something didn't look right. I'm not sure what to think about this.

One problem I had with this film would have to be the lack of character depth in many of the characters. At times, it seems as if we are expected to know and understand the characters before going to see the film because it is a real life story. But as a film, it could have developed the characters more to help us (and those who know nothing about Dillinger, his life, or Purvis and the FBI) understand them better. Another problem was some of the historical inaccuracies. Many things portrayed in the film, do not happen as they did in real life. Many sequences are just out of order. I know the filmmakers had to know about this and just tried to work it in as best as they could. It's not a documentary, it's a movie.

I really enjoyed Public Enemies. It's a solid crime drama and a good summer film. I understand expectations were through the roof, but that's a little hard to ask for. It's a really good film, but not quite a great one... The action is fun, the story is interesting. Maybe instead of being a very good film, it could have became a really great film if more was put into the characters? I'm not sure. It just felt as if something were missing. But who can knock a film for still being good?

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201 out of 319 people found the following review useful:

Ambitious, expensive but crippled with dud characters, dim ideas.

5/10
Author: Hunt2546 from United States
1 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Very disappointing retelling of the 13-month John Dillinger crime spree across the Midwest in 1933-34. Here's why without any BS: 1.) No personality. Gang members remain ciphers throughout. (When Red Hamilton (Jason Clark) dies after being in EVERY OTHER SCENE you think: Who the hell is he. None of the subsidiary people pop, unlike the vast number of vivid unique individuals in HEAT. 2.) Depp miscast badly. Read about Dillinger: he was ebullient, charming, commanding. With NO experience he commandeered the best pro bank robbers in the Midwest to follow his lead and led them on a 13-month blaze of glory and infamy. Depp instead is pensive, moody, brooding, internalized: he never displays the charisma and guile that the historic Dillinger did. He was chosen for his romantic chops, not his gangster chops, because of . . . 3.) Misemphasis on romantic. Mann pays too much attention to Dillinger's least interesting thing, that is, his affair with Billy Freschette. This was clearly NOT a love-unto-death deal like Bonnie and Clyde. Before Billy, Dillinger had girlfriends, after Billy Dillinger had girlfriends and during Billy, Dillinger had girlfriends. The guy had been in stir 9 years; he had a lot of catching up to do. Mann emphasizes this affair, ignores Dillinger's unique connection to his family in Indiana (very interesting), his leadership skills, his courage. Very odd and unfortunate (and disappointing) choice. 4.) Accuracy, as in, lack thereof. Mann really doesn't progress beyond Milius's 1973 truncated take; he starts out with lies (Dillinger at escape from state pen by his cohorts, Purvis singlehandedly bringing down Pretty Boy Floyd) in the first two scenes and it never gets better. In fact most of the men we watch die in the film died AFTER, not before, Dillinger, including Floyd and Babyface Nelson and Homer Van Meter and Harry Pierpont. Why did Mann buy rights to Burroughs' "Public Enemies" if he was going to make stuff up? Also (SPOILER): a major meme in the film is that the syndicate, under Frank Nitti, "got" Dillinger because his kind of spectacular showboat caper was screwing things up for the big money boys; in the literature, I can find NO evidence of this being the case. 5.) Introduced, then abandoned, themes: Mann intros at least four major ideas about Dillinger and his fate which could serve as a kind of structure for the movie; then he abandons all of them, leaving them as pointless curiosities. The first I've mentioned: that the mob got Dillinger. No. 2 (from Burroughs): Hoover used the Road Warrior bandits crime spree as a methodology to grow his Bureau and cement his own control of it and his place in popular culture. No. 3: the coming of western gunman. Indeed, at a certain point, the Bureau did bring in experienced gunfighters as Mann shows, but he never really dramatizes or builds on their contribution to the take-down of the bad guys. He seems to set up, then walk away from the idea of cowboys vs. bank robbers. Very disappointing. 4. The inexperience of Hoover. He includes a scene (it actually took place in 1936, not '33) where a Senator derides Hoover and makes a big deal over the fact that Hoover's never made an arrest. Then of course Mann doesn't bring that issue to conclusion, showing Hoover arresting Alvin Karpis, who is a kind of mystery guest (he's played by Giovonni Ribisi) who appears and disappears from the film without explanation. Which leads to: 6.) Editing woes. Ribisi is just one such mystery guest; other big name, well-known people appear in meaningless, undeveloped characters, suggesting that whole subplots of the film were left out and what we're seeing in a hasty, shortened edit (like the version of "Once Upon a Time in America" that was initially released). You can fairly ask: what the hell are Ribisi, Leelee Sobieski, Matt Craven and Steven Lang even doing here when they have so little to do; Craven doesn't even have any lines! I am looking forward to a director's cut sometime in the future. On the plus side, yes: great clothes, great cars, great location shots, superb editing and beast of all great gunfights. But the guns demonstrate some astonishing marginal attention to detail while much large issues of history are deliberately misstated. Why does Mann get the fact the Babyface had a Colt .38 Super converted to a machine pistol with a Thompson vertical fore-grip mounted on the dustcover (look fast or you'll miss it) at the Little Bohemia shootout but insist, after John Milius, (SPOILER) that the Babyface was slain there. Nelson didn't die until October and he went down hard, taking two FBIers with him. Ultimate judgment: such a squandered opportunity! There's probably never going to be another big Dillinger movie and it sickens me that Mann willfully made so many dubious decisions. These people lived and died and fought and bled for and against us, gave us their lives; they deserved SO MUCH BETTER.

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116 out of 162 people found the following review useful:

Mediocre at Best, but so very flawed!

4/10
Author: Sundance89 from United Kingdom
2 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film is mediocre at best. I saw it last night, and was hoping that I'd get the rant over with before this morning, but sadly I find that I cannot find many things that were right with this film!!

1. Death Sequences: These were all mixed up and, as a bit of a history buff, I didn't like that! Dillinger was not the last of his gang to die, I believe it was Baby Face Nelson (who was not killed with Homer Van Meter either). And, Pretty Boy Floyd (although no real link with Dillinger) was killed after Dillinger and his boys.

2. Character Development: This was very, very poor for what was rumoured to be a big hit of Summer 09! Too much time was definitely spent on the whole Dillinger/Billie relationship, and on Purvis. Sure, they were the big name stars, but it should've been about characters not star pulling power!! "Handsome" Harry Pierpont, Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, etc. deserved more screen time! The scene with Pretty Boy Floyd; I had no idea who he was meant to be at first! I thought it was some random chase through an orchard! Pierpont disappears about halfway through, never to be heard from again. Then, Dillinger's going round with some more guys, who shortly end up dead. Half the time, I was lost as to who was who except the big-name stars and the characters I'd learnt a bit about.

3. Action sequences: Way too long in my opinion, and could've been cut down to make way for more character development. The sound effects weren't even that effective, as to me they sounded more like fireworks at some points or were too loud.

The good points are few in number. The acting was good, camera work was sub-standard, lighting was good, angles were okay if not a little dodgy in places, etc. There is, however, nothing that I can really stick to as a fantastic feature of this film.

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120 out of 176 people found the following review useful:

Overview of a criminal mastermind

7/10
Author: Reef-Shark from United States
6 July 2009

Public Enemies is an alright docu-crime-thriller that, thought well-made, ends up coming out dry. Many of the scenes are well paced, but in its running time the film feels like a very rushed overview of the final years of John Dillinger. What I mean to say is that this is a good movie, but you probably won't leave the theater feeling like you've learned anything about John Dillinger, other than trivial facts. The movie never really gives Johnny Depp a chance to shape the character into a believable icon because as I previously stated this film feels more like a dramatized overview of Dillinger's career instead of focusing on the man himself.

Now, Johnny Depp is a fine actor, and he reminds us in this movie that he isn't only a go-to man for quirky, weird, whimsical, and bizarre characters. In Public Enemies Depp reminds us that he is talented as a traditional actor and that he is still one of the best in Hollywood today. The problem is the script he is given for Public Enemies never lets him expand on anything regarding John Dellinger as a person. In Ridley Scott's 'American Gangster' Denzel Washington was given a chance to really emphasize the qualities he felt reflected his view of Frank Lucas. Public enemies, Johnny Depp never truly gets to define what he feels are the most important aspects of his portrayal of Dellinger because often the film gets too caught up in the action and events instead of its characters.

Christian Bale bounces back after a sub-par performance in 'Terminator: Salvation' and it's good to see him working his voice manipulation ability again, because I for one was beginning to think he'd gotten stuck on his Batman-style growl. Playing the FBI agent pursuing Dillinger he is an interesting character due to his dedication and could have been a really interesting character, but like Depp, Bale never really gets a chance to try and expand on his character.

The music isn't anything you haven't heard before in previous crime films of this sort, but for the most part it works. I wouldn't buy the soundtrack to this film, but it certainly didn't take away from the experience. Also, songs from the 30s are played throughout, and most of the time they manage to fit into the story's many montage scenes very well.

Director Michael Mann seems a tad bit off when compared to some of his previous films. He often goes for a look that makes the audience feel that they're in the middle of everything, and that's good in small stretches, but I felt he used this technique too often and I found myself growing a tad bit dizzy at times, and had a desire to see what was going on in the shootouts. I found it strange, that with his recent films such as 'Collateral', where the characters had been the center-focus of the entire film, he could then make a movie about one of the most infamous criminal minds and have it be more about the history than the characters who lived it.

The thing that is most fascinating about this film is the costumes and sets. The men and women behind these really outdid themselves and created a very authentic view of 1930s Chicago. This aspect of the film alone makes it worth seeing! Every costume and set seems to have been made with the utmost attention to detail, and the final result is very pleasing to the eye.

The final product in an okay docu-drama on the life of one of America's most infamous criminals, but in the end you really don't discover anything about John Dillinger that you couldn't have found out by looking him up on Wikipedia. So this is a pretty film to look at, and with Depp and Bale it's a good way to introduce those unfamiliar with Dillinger to the criminal, but if you were looking for a character study on the bank robber you may find yourself a tad-bit disappointed.

I wouldn't come close to calling Public Enemies one of the best movies of the summer, or of the year, but when compared to several other films that are currently being screened I would still highly recommend it. With movies like 'Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen' out there your money is best spent on Michael Mann's Public Enemies.

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123 out of 192 people found the following review useful:

Good, but not without flaws

7/10
Author: Kristine (kristinedrama14@msn.com) from Chicago, Illinois
6 July 2009

Public Enemies, this film has been built up for quite a while, why not? It stars Johnny Depp as one of history's most famous bank robbers. Also the city of Chicago has been excited to see this, in some strange way we considered Dillinger to be a Robin Hood as he never took money from the common man, just from the banks. He also was clever enough to escape jail by making a fake gun out of a soap bar, I lived in Indiana for a year and people are incredibly proud that Crown Point was where Dillinger had fooled everyone, lol. So naturally I was really looking forward to seeing this movie, especially with Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, it's a can't miss. Unfortunately for me, the film fell short of our expectations as the way it was made and how there is lack of material for Depp and Bale to work with to give these characters any depth. Mann makes a film that is using a digital camera for a film set in the 1930's and doesn't really bring his A game to the film as it's more like "Here's Dillinger's story… enjoy".

Set in 1933 John Dillinger is brought to a penitentiary, but is there to break out the rest of his gang. After loosing a few of his friends, he's headed to Chicago to make his mark on the banks. Melvin Purvis is upgraded by J. Edgar Hoover, who is protecting the FBI from scrutiny by politicians, to lead the hunt for John. John later meets Billie Frechette, whom he takes to dinner. He states plainly what he will do for her and how he will treat her if they are to have a relationship. After a shoot out gone horribly wrong and making the police look more incompetent, Purvis demands that Hoover bring in professional lawmen who know how to catch criminals dead or alive. Though Hoover had hoped for more pristine agents, he agrees. While John and Billie are enjoying the luxuries across the States, the police finally find Dillinger and arrest him and his gang in Miami. However, Dillinger and a few inmates escape from prison using a fake gun. He is goaded into a bank robbery job by an acquaintance, Dillinger agrees. The robbery goes fine until Nelson impulsively kills a nearby police officer, alerting more of the robbery, making Dillinger Public Enemy Number 1.

Now Public Enemies is by no means a bad film, some of the actors were terrific and the sets were perfect as well as the whole feel of the film. But it just won't stop with the "Run! Chase! Run! Chase! Shoot! Shoot!" scenes that seem to dull down after a while. The love story between Dillinger and his gal, Billie didn't seem too necessary, it added to the story but for me felt a little out of place at times. I have to tell you that I'm feeling so incredibly bad for Christian Bale this year as it seems like he's been given characters who are not well written, but I'm starting to wonder if the Batman voice is his new trademark because he was starting to use that voice again in a few sentences. Depp does the best he can, but once again with the lack of material; he's made out completely as the hero of the film, instead of maybe having more of a documentary feel to it and being biased on how cool Dillinger was. Maybe he's Mann's personal hero, who knows. But over all the film is decent enough for the watch, I'd just say if you want to see it, go for a matinée or a rental, it wasn't worth the full price.

7/10

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76 out of 108 people found the following review useful:

Overlong and ultimately disappointing.

6/10
Author: IndependentThoughtAlarm from Canada
4 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'll spare you any suspense, here. Simply put, Public Enemies is a major disappointment. There is one aspect that the film has going for it, though, and that is the performances. Johnny Depp is great but, as I've read in other reviews, not exactly irreplaceable. Marion Cotillard is fantastic, but underused. Christian Bale is solid, but pretty forgettable. Unfortunately, everything else about the film proved disappointing.

This is the story of John Dillinger, who robbed banks, broke out of prisons, shot a lot of guns, loved a woman he met and didn't spend much time with, and...not much else. At least, that's what Public Enemies would have you believe. So little actually happens in this film it's a marvel they managed to stretch the running time past an hour and a bit.

A short run through: John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) escapes from a prison. Then he robs a bank. Then he meets Billie (Marion Cotillard), and they fall in love. He robs another bank. Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) wants to catch him. Shootout. Bank robbery. Repeat. He gets shot. How long did that take me, 30 seconds? I'm not saying the film was unnecessary, it was just unnecessarily long. So many scenes could have been cut down or just taken away altogether. The shootout near the middle of the film took so long to get through, that about halfway through it I had completely forgotten what it was they were doing. From that point on, it was nothing but bullets, blood, yelling and a lot of flashes from the guns that nearly blinded me.

The film wasn't exactly a treat for the eyes, either. The look of the film was horribly uneven, split evenly three ways between beautiful, crystal clear shots, amateur student film hand-held, and security camera footage. Either one wouldn't have been awful on its own, but it was just so wildly inconsistent that a good chunk of the time I was too distracted, wondering what had happened to the camera (sometimes between shots in the same scene), to worry about the story.

And like I said above, there's not much story to tell here. I'm sure the man had a very interesting life, but there was no real point to the film. It didn't seem like there was any specific story to tell. Quite simply put, it was merely about John Dillinger. "Well, just what about John Dillinger?", you ask. And I don't have an answer for you. Sorry. Either way, the film didn't highlight Dillinger as a hero or as a villain, and while I don't mind the impartial nature of the film in itself, I had a hard time really caring about what happened to him.

The love story was easily the most entertaining part of the film. Too bad it didn't show up much. My favorite parts of the film involved Marion Cotillard, and they didn't last long. What a shame. If they had cut down the major shootout or cut out one or two of the bank robbery scenes that were mostly all the same, they could have focused more on that story and I wouldn't have minded the runtime as much.

So, aside from the good performances from just about everyone involved, there's not much to get excited about here. It was overlong, pretty low on plot, and filled to the brim with unnecessary scenes that had left my mind before I had even left the theater. Such a disappointment. It could have been something great, and it just...wasn't.

6/10

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66 out of 92 people found the following review useful:

A muddled mess

2/10
Author: anhedonia from Planet Earth
11 July 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Why is it that anyone who is critical of Michael Mann's "Public Enemies" is promptly branded as a "hater" on this Web site? I don't hate this film or the filmmaker, I just believe it's not a very good film.

I've enjoyed some of Mann's films in the past. I am a fan of "Thief" (1981), "Manhunter" (1986) and "Heat" (1995) and thought "The Insider" (1999) and "Ali" (2001) were interesting. But, as far as I am concerned, "The Last of the Mohicans" (1992) was over-blown - it is not, as one poster claimed, one of the five best films ever made; it's not even one of the 5,000 best films ever made - "Collateral" (2004) started off intriguingly before turning into an utterly conventional thriller, and "Miami Vice" (2006) was rubbish.

But I went into "Public Enemies" with much optimism, given that it stars Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard. And the subject seemed thoroughly suited for Mann.

What a tremendous disappointment "Public Enemies" turned out to be.

There is absolutely nothing special about this film. The best it can be called is middling. It is hum-drum, run-of-the-mill and certainly not something I expected from someone of Mann's caliber.

For starters, this film is not about public enemies; it's about a public enemy. Blink and you will miss Pretty Boy Floyd. And you have no idea who Baby Face Nelson is until someone in the film points him out.

The film began promisingly with the exciting breakout from an Indiana penitentiary. The cinematography looked terrific in that opening shot and there was something delightfully visceral about that sequence.

But then came the rest of the film.

The story moved from one tedious set piece to another. Roger Ebert, whose criticism I respect, lauded Mann for his "meticulous" research for this film. I wonder if Mann's meticulousness included killing off Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson and Homer Van Meter *before* Dillinger when, in real life, they all outlived Dillinger. And Van Meter was *not* gunned down along with Baby Face Nelson.

I realize Mann's fans claim this is a movie and Mann was taking artistic license to enhance his story, as is his wont. But I wonder whether these fans would have echoed similar sentiments if Mann, say, had Muhammad Ali fight Joe Frazier in the Rumble in the Jungle in "Ali" or had Ali lose the fight to Foreman in that film.

Historical inaccuracies aside, "Public Enemies" is just dull. Mann wants us to believe that Dillinger and Billie Frechette were soul mates. But the only word to described their relationship - as Mann shows it - is bland. Which is a shame considering he had two fine actors in Depp and Cotillard and completely wastes them. They are given very little to work with and their dialogue is, at times, downright embarrassing.

Depp has oodles of charm and charisma, but he plays Dillinger solely as cool. There's nothing more to his persona, and when Depp has to be mean on a few occasions, it just doesn't work. Christian Bale, on the other hand, is entirely forgettable as Purvis. It's a nothing character and Bale plays him exactly as he has all his other recent roles. This is a somnambulist Batman and John Connor playing Purvis, mumbling his lines and showing next to no emotion. You learn nothing about Purvis throughout the entire film.

I felt sorry for the wonderful Cotillard because her relatively minor role is made even more minute because her character has no depth and she gets little help from a wanting script. In fact, none of the characters has much depth, if any, and so Mann wastes a talented cast of supporting players that includes Stephen Dorff, Stephen Lang, David Wenham, Matt Craven, Giovanni Ribisi, Jason Clarke, Leelee Sobieski and James Russo.

Then there's the cinematography and I really don't know if one can blame Dante Spinotti for this. I realize Mann is in love with digital technology and while that might have worked on "Collateral" and "Miami Vice," it does not here. With the exception of a few lovely shots, the rest of the film looks like it was shot on someone's cheap holiday camera. I have seen home movies that looked crisper, brighter. The night-time scenes look thoroughly washed out and sans any contrast and the infamous shoot-out in Little Bohemia - which is terribly choreographed - looks like a lousy video game.

I am not averse to shooting in digital. There are countless films that look terrific shot on high-definition digital. Take a peek at "The Lookout" (2007), for instance. It looks spectacular shot on high-def. I personally believe that period pieces should be shot on film, but even granting Mann's decision to shoot digital, why on earth didn't he use, say, Panavision's Genesis or the Red One cameras? He certainly wasn't constrained by the budget.

I realize Mann could take a crap at Hollywood and Vine and his fans would consider it a masterpiece. But it's still crap and just because it came from Mann doesn't turn it into gold.

"Public Enemies" is simply a disappointing movie. It lacks any depth, the characters are boring at best, insipid at worst. The film ambles along without any sense of how to tell a story or put that story into the context of American history and, after a while, all I could think of was how much better Arthur Penn fared with "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967), how much more I wanted to see that film instead and could we please get to The Biograph already.

But Mann even managed to screw up the grand finale by adding an unnecessarily hokey and sentimental coda.

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49 out of 74 people found the following review useful:

Not one of Mann's best, but still...

7/10
Author: praveen77 from India
13 August 2009

Whenever a Michael Mann movie comes out, I am besieged by expectations. This is one director whose style I seem to consistently like. The Insider, Heat, Collateral, The Last of the Mohicans, and yes.. I LOVED Miami Vice the movie (despite the many negative reviews it seemed to have got). So, when Public Enemies came out, and seeing Mann team up with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, I knew I could not miss this. However, probably because of the high standards he has set for himself, I was a little disappointed with this.

The story is about a gangster bank robber, John Dillinger(Johnny Depp), back in the '30's, who pulled off a couple of daring heists and prison breaks. He was generally considered a hero among the public, as this was during the years of the great depression and Dillinger was seen as someone who steals from the rich man. A fledging FBI, led by the peerless J. Edgar Hoover, decide to hunt him down so that they can grow the organization, and name him Public Enemy Number 1. Melvin Purvis(Christian Bale) is assigned the task of leading this group of agents.

Johnny Depp is as usual great, but you get a feeling he would have been even better if the script had given enough scope to explore the character of Dillinger. The same goes with his love interest, played by Marillon Cotillard. Again, a wonderful actress, but at times the love story seemed forced into the story. Despite this, they have great chemistry.

Which brings me to Christian Bale. This is an actor who has so much more to offer than the half baked roles he has been getting this year. You get a feeling this year that he is being offered big movies which don't give him a character he can bite his teeth into. First there was Terminator Salvation, and now this. In both, his character never really seemed into the movie as compared to the others. I'm waiting to see a movie again where he will assert himself.

Despite the flaws, this is still a good movie from Mann. Just don't go in expecting it to out do his best.

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