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Public Enemies (2009)

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

Director:

Michael Mann

Writers:

Ronan Bennett (screenplay), Michael Mann (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
1,068 ( 79)
1 win & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Bale ... Melvin Purvis
Christian Stolte ... Charles Makley
Jason Clarke ... 'Red' Hamilton
Johnny Depp ... John Dillinger
Stephen Graham ... Baby Face Nelson
David Wenham ... Harry 'Pete' Pierpont
John Judd ... Turnkey
Stephen Dorff ... Homer Van Meter
Michael Vieau Michael Vieau ... Ed Shouse
John Kishline John Kishline ... Guard Dainard
Carey Mulligan ... Carol Slayman
James Russo ... Walter Dietrich
Giovanni Ribisi ... Alvin Karpis
Wesley Walker ... Jim Leslie
John Scherp John Scherp ... Earl Adams
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Storyline

The difficult 1930s is a time of robbers who knock over banks and other rich targets with alarming frequency. Of them, none is more notorious than John Dillinger, whose gang plies its trade with cunning efficiency against big businesses while leaving ordinary citizens alone. As Dillinger becomes a folk hero, FBI head J. Edger Hoover is determined to stop his ilk by assigning ace agent Melvin Purvis to hunt down Dillinger. As Purvis struggles with the manhunt's realities, Dillinger himself faces an ominous future with the loss of friends, dwindling options and a changing world of organized crime with no room for him. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

America's Most Wanted


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Japan

Language:

English

Release Date:

1 July 2009 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Enemigos públicos See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$100,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$25,271,675, 5 July 2009, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$97,104,620, 28 July 2012

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$214,104,620, 28 July 2012
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

SDDS | Dolby Digital | DTS

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a Senate hearing scene, when asked how many people he has arrested personally, J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) sheepishly admits, "I have never arrested anybody." In real-life, this was a point of embarrassment to Hoover, and he decided to correct it. On May 1, 1936, FBI Agents tracked down Alvin Carpis (played by Giovanni Ribisi in the film) in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hoover flew to New Orleans, and personally arrested Karpis as he sat in his car outside of his hide-out. News reports of the arrest made Hoover a national hero, and solidified his image as a powerful law enforcement officer. However, Karpis later claimed that Hoover's involvement in his arrest was not quite so heroic. Supposedly, Hoover waited in a nearby FBI car while Federal Agents surrounded Karpis at gunpoint. Then Hoover walked over to Karpis and told him he was under arrest. When Hoover told the FBI Agents, "Put the cuffs on him, boys" the FBI men realized they hadn't brought any handcuffs, and Karpis' hands had to be secured using an Agent's necktie. See more »

Goofs

When Dillinger visits the Chicago mob's racing wire room, there is a separate board on the wall for posting results from Santa Anita Park in Los Angeles. The visit took place in February 1934, according to the judge who had just set Dillinger's trial date; Santa Anita did not open until Christmas Day 1934. See more »

Quotes

Melvin Purvis: What keeps you up nights, Mr. Dillinger?
John Dillinger: Coffee.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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

Connections

References Manhattan Melodrama (1934) See more »

Soundtracks

Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
(1927)
Written by Blind Willie Johnson (uncredited)
Performed by Blind Willie Johnson
Courtesy of Yazoo Records/Shanachie Entertainment Corp.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Overview of a criminal mastermind
6 July 2009 | by Reef-SharkSee all my reviews

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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