Public Enemies (2009) Poster

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6/10
Hit and miss, mostly miss
poc-12 July 2009
Warning: 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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4/10
Mediocre at Best, but so very flawed!
Sundance892 July 2009
Warning: 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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5/10
Well-Made Cinematically, But Shallow
Eschete3 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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1/10
A muddled mess
anhedonia11 July 2009
Warning: 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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6/10
Overlong and ultimately disappointing.
Warning: 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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7/10
Overview of a criminal mastermind
Reef-Shark6 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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5/10
Ambitious, expensive but crippled with dud characters, dim ideas.
Hunt25461 July 2009
Warning: 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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7/10
Good, but not without flaws
Kristine6 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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8/10
The devil is in the details
Chris Knipp5 July 2009
It's as hard to get a grip on Mann's impressive but vaguely off-putting new movie about John Dillinger's last thirteen months as it is to project yourself into the coldly beautiful digital images. The title itself provides a clue to the problem: it doesn't focus on the star criminal embodied by the charismatic and -- here -- coolly dashing Johnny Depp, whose quips and provocations in the trailer draw us into the theater to see him, only him, and his bold exploits. It points instead to the wider focus of Mann's book source -- 'Vanity Fair' writer Bryan Burroughs' 600 pages of meticulous research, 'Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34.' Relentless G-man Purvis (a convincing but bloodless Christian Bale) and his rising boss FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup, both droll and period) are part of another story as important as the bank robber's final wide ride, the story of the growing cruelty and relentlessness of the forces of American law.

Look at another title of a movie about a doomed but spectacular crime spree: Arthur Penn's 'Bonnie and Clyde.' That 1967 classic works so well because it's character-driven. Even in the sketchy but powerful scenes that outline John Dillinger's romance with French-Native American hatcheck girl Billie Frechette (Marion Cottillard, working wonders with limited material), character is subsidiary to function: "I rob banks," Johnny says. And then: "What else you need to know?" Well, quite a lot, actually, for a rounded character to emerge. Mann's movie is meticulous as to period look, to facade, but not to essence. Its street scenes are full of detail, its clothes immaculate and accurate. Taking place in 1933-34, however, it provides too few overt signs of the Great Depression. The film is also misleading in showing the Dillinger gang only robbing grand, marble-hall-and-column banks, when in fact they mostly robbed small and middling sized ones.

The overall result is a collection of contradictions. There is romance, but the effect isn't romantic. There's precise realism, but the overall effect isn't realistic. Perhaps the only unmitigated pleasure that remains is the images, the digital with its cold precision, its crisp edges even when many of the cameras are jiggly and hand-held, the depth of detail in darkness, the color that is neither bright nor faded, the sheer satisfying crispness of everything and everybody. And in this one aspect, a sublimely heightened vérité whose look is something quite new, 'Public Enemies' matches 'Bonnie and Clyde:' it makes us feel we're seeing period scenes with contemporary eyes. The best and most memorable images are the complex ones you won't see in stills where many actors are running back and forth in front of the camera, the gunshots are popping realistically in every direction, and there is no hint of the usual film chiaroscuro or highlighting, but the light is somehow beautiful. The cameras move too much, but they do rub your face in the action. What's gong on you may figure out later.

Maybe you can't avoid mythologizing when you shoot a movie about a famous Thirties bank robber and shouldn't try to, but Mann does. He's working, with great accomplishment, from that meticulous historical account, involving dozens of players on both the cop and the crook sides. Dillinger (and alternatively the totally unappealing Purvis) stay in the foreground. But there too is a contradiction, because the way Depp plays his part, witty, cold, and focused rather than warm and down-to-earth, his character ends up being impressive, but ultimately absent. (Contrast Warren Beatty's impotence and blinking charm as Clyde Barrow, an absence you yet want to cuddle.) Even when the characters are strong in Public Enemies, they don't get enough chance to interact. Dillinger is rarely with Frechette. His chance to confront Purivs is too brief, the moment when Purvis tells him he's to be extradited to Indiana and he quips, "There's absolutely nothing I want to do in Indiana." He's not facing off Purvis; he's playing to the audience.

This should have been one of the showpieces of the season, and it is indeed a blockbuster with class in a world of junk. Its virtuoso look and complexly orchestrated scenes will hold up with time, but despite a freshness in approaching familiar genre material, it's missing that certain 'je ne sais quoi.' Even though it's different, it lacks style, movie-making panache, playfulness, suspense, the ability to push a climax, the capacity to take a breather so the momentum builds up again. There's an impressive twittering machine functioning here on all its Ford V8 cylinders. But the light touch is missing, the capacity to make you say "Yeah!", to simultaneously stand apart and admire while utterly caught up in it all.
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John Dillinger- Public Enemy #1
Billy_Costigan1 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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8/10
Back to the '30s with Mann
Hawley_Griffin20 August 2009
My grandpa's first reaction when he heard this movie was being released was -why? Why yet another movie about Dillinger? What can it add? My grandpa's question triggered my thinking. Movies and Hollywood filmmakers don't seem to care anymore about adding something to history or the medium. They just seem to compulsively adapt other movies, toy lines or videogames into modern reworkings. It's a culture of thoughtless recycling. Fortunately, and although I haven't seen the '30s or '70s biopics, Michael Mann does have something to show.

The first surprise is how the movie is shot. As one of the most vocal followers of digital video, Mann seems to exploit its handicaps instead of trying to convince us it can look as good as film. Throughout the movie we're treated to 3D video feel, artificial grain and close-ups which show up every pore on the actors skins. It's like someone sent a documentary crew back in time. However, this incongruous approach also made me experience the 1930s in a way I'd never done before, as a reality instead of a postcard. Almost all movie depictions of the "public enemies" era (even the gritty ones, like Bonnie and Clyde) are stylish and sophisticated. Instead, Mann's compulsive attention to prop and costume detail combined with the hand-held camera-work are immediately urging and attention-grabbing.

Mann, as a filmmaker, always seemed to me more interested in technique than depth or story. This is arguably the same film he has made twice before (I'm talking about Thief and Heat), only this time history-based. As I read on about Dillinger and Melvin Purvis after watching the film, I realized the movie's script is very unusual in that it almost seems to strip the juicy bits out of the story. Where is the scene with the people soaking their handkerchiefs on Dillinger's blood, or the '30s era depression portrait? Like you guys were saying, Little Bohemia was in fact an embarrassment to the FBI in which civilians got shot and the criminal walked away unharmed. Except for a weird scene in which Dillinger walks into the Chicago police station and wanders around, there's a very down-to-earth approach to the character, taking away his more mythical elements and leaving us with a career robber who, like James Caan's character in Thief, seems to abstractly decide to fall in love to make up for lost time.

The movie focuses obsessively on this relationship, instead of the more obvious paths it could have taken. Hoover's incompetence and his closet homosexuality are brief side notes. So is Melvin Purvis. The movie strips him of a personality, showing only the professional side of the policeman. This is so evident that when the title card near the end informs us that he later shot himself, I had to laugh it was so random. I seem to be speaking against all of this, but in fact what I'm doing is pointing out how unusual all of these directorial choices are. In fact, I celebrate them. Public Enemies is a movie that might seem frustrating to many, but to me, it was a refreshing, exciting journey into a world too often depicted and too easily neutralized. It's a great thing to see a copmen-and-robbers film without feeling like I've seen it all before. And make no mistake, the film's action scenes are intense.

I'd like to finish by pointing out that the movie has a hell of a cast. Johnny Depp is a revelation in a time when it looked like his awesomeness was exhausting itself. Christian Bale is not given much to do as Purvis, but he's competent, mostly the Bale serious face we see too much of all the time. Billy Crudup's Hoover is great, he deserves his own flick. Marion Cotillard is a great foil to Depp. There are a lot of very famous faces on the film (in fact, maybe too many), and some of them are only in for very brief seconds - Lily Tomlin, Giovanni Ribisi and Leelee Sobieski enter and leave the screen and they're all very good, but none have any big scenes. This might be the artsiest blockbuster I've ever seen. Which, in my mind, is a compliment.
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7/10
Stupendous gangster movie about Dilillinger and his band with violent , rough gun battles
ma-cortes4 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This is the most known and modern version based on the real life of notorious gangster of the 30s and follows Dillinger's midway through the criminal activities until his death outside Biograph Theatre . Based on the violent career of John Dillinger and his gang , this is a Dillinger biography who roamed US , terrifying the Midwest, robbing banks and killing . It is brought to life in this heavily romanticized story about the most colorful period of criminality in America . It's set during Depression era , when any job , even illegal one , was cherished and greed , money and power originated an interminable cycle of fury and violence . John Dillinger is magnetically played by Johnny Depp , he became number one public enemy and Melvin Purvis (Christian Slater), as a tough G-Man under direct orders of Edward Hoover (Billy Cudrup). Depp and the support cast (as Stephen Lang , Rory Cochrane, John Ortiz , among others) turn fine performances in this enjoyable account of the criminal life . It receives an extremely strong and thrilling fast-paced treatment , almost too violent ; gripping and intense at the time , but remains impressive and brilliant and not easily forgotten and never lets up .

The film starts on half his criminal career , Dillinger didn't stop his criminal rampage until a single FBI agent worked to chase the crime boss . After the spectacular escape from Lima (Ohio) prison , Dillinger falls in love with gorgeous Evelyn Billie Trechette (Marion Cotillard) and along with his band hold up a bank in Racine (Wisconsin), and rob the First National Bank of Chicago East , Indiana . But Dillinger is trapped in Tucson and moved to Crown Point (Indiana) . He's sent prison and in spite of security taken by 50 policemen and the National Guardsmen , he breaks out with a gun of wood . Then , he created a new band formed by Hamilton (Jason Clarke) , Pierpont (David Wenham), Homer Van Meeter (Stephen Dorff) , Eddie Green , McKeley , Tommy Carroll , Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi), Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) and Lester Gilles , alias Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) . They going on robbing banks , such as the Security National Bank and Trust of Sioux falls in Dakota South and the Merchant's National Bank of South Bend , Indiana . Other starring in the final chase of Dillinger , is Anna Sage (Katic) 'The lady in red' a Rumanian immigrant submitted possible deportation and she double-crossed him and informed to Melvin Purvis about the outlet from Biograph theatre where found Dillinger . Finally 'The lady in red' was deported to Romania in 1935 and never returned to America . Evelyn Trechette and John Dillinger Sr toured the country in 1935 with a show called 'Crime does not pay', she died as a spinster on an Indian reservation in 1969 . Harry Pierpont was jailed and condemned electric chair , Van Meeter , Mckley , Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson surrounded by policemen were shot to death . Marvin Purvis quited the FBI after Dillinger case and went into private business. He shot himself in 1961 with the same gun he used to kill Dillinger . Dillinger new address the combat silhouette targets used by the FBI.

This solid gangster flick is packed with a luxurious and glamorous cinematography by Dante Spinotti . Thrilling and evocative musical score by Elliot Goldenthal . The movie was professionally directed and produced (along with Robert De Niro) by Michael Mann , author of excellent films as ¨The last Mohican , Heat , The insider , Hunter¨ and many others . Other adaptations about this know story, are the following : 'Dillinger(1945)' one of the best B films of its kind , directed by Noel Nosseck with Laurence Tierney and Anne Jeffreys ; 'Young Dillinger'(1965) by Terry Morse with Nick Adams; 'Lady in Red'(1979) by Lewis Teague with Robert Conrad and Pamela Sue Martin ; Dillinger (TV, 1991) with Mark Harmon and Sherilyn Fenn and 'Dillinger and Capone' by John Purdy with Martin Sheen and F. Murray Abraham and specially known the classic version (1973) directed by John Milius with Warren Oates , Michelle Philips, Steve Kanaly and Richard Dreyfuss.
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1/10
Dull and Uninteresting
talewright3 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I remember how I felt when I finally realized that Santa Claus did not exist, and I had that same feeling after viewing "Public Enemies" with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. I never thought I'd see a day when these two fine actors would star in such a dull and uninteresting movie.

Their fine acting aside, this movie has as much in common with other excellent biopics as Michael Moore does with presenting untainted and unedited truth.

It's as though Michael Mann wrote too much, shot too much, had too much money to spend, and edited too little.

I kept waiting for that magical moment when the movie would pick up and the excitement would grow, finally exploding in a dramatic climax that movie aficionados such as myself love. Never happened. Depp and Bale are at their best, but the tedious of the story-telling, the lack of character sympathy, and the over all cut-and-run of the editing created 140 minutes of boredom.

"Public Enemies" is a 90 minute movie crammed into 140 minutes.

Want to see a good Dillinger movie? Try "Dillinger" with Lawrence Tierney from 1945. Shorter, to the point, and unpretentious.
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1/10
"Public Enemies" is inappropriately shot, directed, and edited
walter_gilmore23 July 2009
"Public Enemies" explores the antics of the 1930's bank robber John Dillinger. Although set during the 1930's Mann chooses to shoot the film in primarily HD and with what appears to be mostly zoom lenses. The fishbowl like hyper-clean HD look and video like color timing of the film is inappropriate and off-putting. Furthermore the choice of the Wide-Angled Zoom lens (used mostly in documentaries) distorts the picture (look for ugly distorted hands in the foreground of the frame when Dillinger dances with his "girl" in the first act of the film) and seems student film like. The picture edit lacks a consistent timing and appears rushed and the sound editorial is full of silent holes for no main stream or art house reason that I can think of. It appears that HD, or the way Mann uses and color times HD in this particular film, was not the way to go for a 1930's gangster film. 35mm or perhaps even Super 16mm with some prime lenses may have worked out better for Mann's "Public Enemies". Fincher's DP in "Benjamin Button" was able to appropriately capture beautiful HD images for him but Mann's camera department seems, quite simply, "off", in this film. Why some critics call "Public Enemies" a work of art is befuddling to me. The direction of the film is poor as well and lacks a consistent style and a poor revelation of information. Mann's "Heat", "Insider" and "Ali" all were more beautifully shot, edited, and directed than "Public Enemies". Even the usually handsome Depp looks old and tired because of the nature of the optics and HD acquisition. Sitting in the theater I saw at least 10 people walk out after about 45 min. into the film and the rest appeared bored and confused. Too bad, I was looking forward to a good gangster movie.
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7/10
Not one of Mann's best, but still...
praveen7713 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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7/10
Johnny Dillinger and other characters
hollyfairbanks-usa2 July 2009
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.
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1/10
This Film Is Junk
Shannon MacGregor1 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Public Enemies" is poorly directed, poorly acted, poorly shot, and especially, poorly written.

At no point was I convinced by any of the performances. Depp walks around looking smug throughout the film. That's not acting. I can look smug, anybody can look smug. All of the other performances were also two-dimensional (as in flat), but that has as much to do with the way the characters were written and the way the cast members were directed in their performances as it does with the actors' own abilities.

So far as the screenplay is concerned, when you take a real-life bank robber who did in fact shoot and kill innocent people and make him look heroic, that is disgusting. I live in Zion, Illinois, halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. Much of Dillinger's life of crime is within an hour's drive from my home. His crimes and actions are well-known around here. He was a disgusting criminal, and it was a great day when he was gunned down outside the Biograph Theater.

Johnny Depp tried to justify Dillinger's life of crime by stating that he didn't rob people, but banks, in his promotional appearances. What does he think a bank is? When you rob a bank, you rob everyone who does business with that bank. If I have an account at a bank, whether it be a savings account, a checking account, a CD, or whatever, I am robbed, too, if that bank is robbed, because it is my money that is being taken, not the bank's money. Depp's words are nonsense. He bought into the legend instead of the facts.

Another awful thing about this film is the camera-work and cinematography. The camera moves and moves and moves, hardly sitting still and focusing on anything. Hold the camera still! Let's see a shot that lasts for more than a few seconds!

This film is offensive and it's the worst film I have seen at the theater so far this year.
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1/10
Incomprehensible and nearly unwatchable
iampaulinnyc25 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I like Michael Mann's work -- the man is a true talent...which makes it all the more incomprehensible that he could create such a baffling piece of cinema. I saw the film at a preview in NYC a couple of nights ago and my brain still hurts trying to catalog all the places this film went so very wrong.

Ultimately, the film's problems emanate from the script which does little to illuminate the characters in any visceral way, save for a sliver of Dillinger. We, the audience, really don't know who anyone is or why we should care...until very late in the game but by then we are simply praying, fervently, for it to be over. I'm not saying we need to like Mr. Depp's character in any way; we simply long to understand him, or just enjoy his foibles. As laid out by Mr. Mann we never do, a maddening experience.

And why in sweet heaven's name is it called "Public Enemies"? We never, ever, focus on the the plural in that title; the other "enemies" are barely seen or known. If the film needed to be cut, virtually eliminating the other "enemies," then change the title to Public Enemy No 1. The title they went with has nothing to do with this movie.

Then there's the look of the film, muddy and indistinct. How is it possible to take a woman as lovely as Marion Cotillard and make her look anything less than beguiling? Mr. Mann's choice of lighting and camera lens gives the film an unnecessarily shadowy and grimy look -- and that keeps us at arm's length from the characters in a very frustrating way.

And why was the sound so muddled, rendering many lines difficult to hear? I don't think it was the theater we were in, an excellent UWS venue.

The story of Dillinger presents a wonderful chance to show the fascinating, historically accurate tension between the characters of Dillinger, J Edgar Hoover, Purvis against the backdrop of an American public who were "fans" of the outlaws. These perfectly juxtaposing circumstances are never exploited for us to enjoy.

Normally I'd RACE to see a film with Depp, Bale, Crudup, Cotillard -- I love them all. In this case, I raced FROM the theater...murmuring "why why why."
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8/10
It is an entertaining backseat ride into the life of a country boy turned bank robber
Rafacus1 July 2009
With Billie Holiday singing her heart out and the subtle details of cracked nail polish and $3 dresses, Public Enemies brings you into the era of the Great Depression without boring you with back stories and explanations.

It is an honest bio-pic with little factual variations outside of John Dillinger's romantic ambitions. It is an entertaining backseat ride into the life of a country boy turned bank robber in a time where America hated money-makers and banks. A time when people were starving and in need of a gun-toting, charismatic mid-western boy to stir things up a bit, one bank robbery at a time.

A Cast of Winning Players Director Michael Mann is known best for Heat, Collateral and Miami Vice. His attention to detail is known and it is said that he went above the call of duty in his research for this movie. Obviously he deemed it important to depict a true version of the Dillinger story with a bit of Hollywood sprinkled in to keep our attention. Johnny Depp is solid as the charismatic bank robber, adopting his mannerisms, speech and swagger and even the trademark smirk that is seen on all of Dillinger's photos. Christian Bale is perfect as Melvin Purvis, looking similar to the "G man" and confidently playing the role convincingly.

Digital Camera and No true sense of good and Bad The camera threw me off a bit switching from an old sepia toned look to a digital one during fights. At times it made you feel as if you were an observant on the street while other times it felt just like a movie. I wasn't sure why this was but I concluded that Mann wanted us to be there with Dillinger most of the time and at other times we are to observe from a distance. There was no great love felt for any of the dark heroes, the charismatic Dillinger was likable but I never felt concern for his well-being. The FBI agent in Purvis (Christian Bale) was the typical white knight archetype and was given little personality outside of this so I felt nothing for him either. The romance between Dillinger and Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) was interesting but felt clichéd (gangsters always have THAT chick in these movies) and just like real life that political blowhard J.Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) is the only real "bad guy" in the entire film.

Final Thoughts It felt like a different time period and the choreography of the gunfights were done well enough to keep me interested. With as colorful a crew as the boys who ran with John Dillinger, it would have been hard to direct a movie like this while keeping everyone relative. Men like Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribisi), Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) and Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) are given screen time, as well as Capone's number one do-boy Frank Nitti (Bill Camp). Still there was so much shown that you tend to lose your familiarity with Dillinger's quest for whatever it is he wanted and the hopelessness of his situation settles in after awhile. It is a good movie with no real emotional weight, just a "this is what happened" gloss to the entire thing with a sprinkling of charisma to top it off. If anything, you will go researching Dillinger and gang after the movie has piqued your interest.

www.SpicyMovieDogs.com
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1/10
This isn't a story, at best this is a reenactment.
Vincent Rocca5 July 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is an unremarkable story and I have no idea why it was told. There's no clever sleuthing and no exciting robberies. Dillinger is killed at the end so it's not even how the underdog bad guy (who is really a good guy) gets away. At best this is a reenactment. Too many characters are introduced with no character development and they are all dressed the same making it impossible to keep track of who's who and who the good guys are .vs the bad. There isn't even any subplots to hold your interest. All I can figure is this wasn't good enough to be released around awards time, but the studio still needed to recoup so they sold it as an action shoot 'em up and went after the Independence popcorn crowd. However this movie won't have legs as an action flick, it'll have a 50% drop off in week two and probably disappear from the top 10 by week 3. Not even worth your time on video unless you are writing an essay on Dillenger or are a fan of confusing shaky unmotivated camera work.
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8/10
1930's Chicago Revisited in Style
gary-4443 July 2009
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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Previewed last night in Westlake, CA
hielele13 November 2008
Johnny Depp was brilliant as Dillinger. You could really tell he loved his line of work, but also struggled with not completely becoming a thug. It was so nice to see him play such a different role for a change. It was real acting, not is normal eccentric character roles (don't get me wrong I love those as well) Christian Bale was also fantastic; you can see his conflict he was having with the job he was tasked to do vs. his own convictions.

Marion Cotillard was stunning and Channing Tatum was such a psycho as Pretty Boy Floyd you hated him and loved him at the same time.

One of the highlights for me was the music. The old nostalgic feeling and the narrator on the radio was one of my favorite bits that was used through out the film.

Over all the movie was excellent, my only issue is with the title. I think simply calling it Dillinger or Bye, Bye Black bird would be better. I think the title really takes away from the feeling of the movie.
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2/10
140 Minutes Of Tedium
fwdixon29 May 2012
Public Enemies is a pretentious piece of rot that has just stolen 140 minutes of my life.

Prolix and tedious, "Public Enemies" unspools at an excruciatingly slow pace and is best recommended as a cure for insomnia. The script is at times unintentionally laughable, clichéd, trite, historically inaccurate and ultimately boring.

The lighting is so poor that at times the film appears to have been filmed in a closet, the dialog is often unintelligible and the musical score at times is intrusive.

Michael Mann's ham-handed directing and producing worked much better on the small screen in Miami Vice and Crime Story.

Christian Bale is noteworthy solely for the utter ineptitude he brings to his performance as Melvin Purvis. I've never been a fan of his but here in "Public Enemies" he is particularly dreadful.

The saving grace of the film (and the only reason I gave it two stars instead of the one it so richly deserves) is Johnny Depp's nuanced performance as John Dillinger. Depp's performance rises far above the material.
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10/10
Heat meets Bonnie and Clyde meets The Assassination of Jesse James
ctg072425 June 2009
What a fine collection of talent in Public Enemies. I had so much doubt in anticipation of this movie. I was told that the camera quality was low, Bale's acting was bad and that the plot was confusing and did not explain anything. After Miami Vice, I was willing to believe this might be another let down. Right in the first act, I knew that this movie was the one I have been waiting for.

The last wave of decent crime films was in the first half of the 90's with Heat, Fargo, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas and Casino. Since then, I have been waiting for more cinematically well- crafted crime dramas. The ones that were expected to be comparable to the older films I think did not reach that level, such as American Gangster. I would say Eastern Promises, Gangs of New York, Road to Perdition, Collateral and The Departed came close, but they are more just good movies of their own.

Public Enemies is the first film in my opinion to have captured the essence of crime drama in a long time. It jumps right into the era, without the explanation that some people wished to have had. We enter right into the world, learning quickly the interactions between Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, Frank Nitty, and much more of the criminal society of the Depression. I've always loved seeing these characters portrayed in the other movies they are featured in, but this film really had them right.

Michael Mann really exercised himself as an auteur on this outing. Many can criticize his style and decision to shoot HD. Still, artists can paint the crucifixion of Christ in many different ways, so Mann should have the right to explore the story in his own fashion as well. I personally thought the imagery was fantastic, most especially the opening act.

Depp, Bale and Cotillard were all great. So was the rest of the cast. Great balance between tragedy and humor. Go see this movie in theaters or you will regret it. It's quite simply the coolest movie of 2009.
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