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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
564 ( 402)
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

Christian Bale and Jason Clarke both played John Connor in the Terminator franchise; Bale in Terminator Salvation and Clarke in Terminator Genisys See more »

Goofs

In opening scene at prison, the sally port inside door is opened before the outside gate is closed. This is never done as it defeats the purpose of a sally port. Also, when the alarm is sounded, the outside gate remains open - procedure would dictate the gates be immediately "frozen" locked. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
Billie Frechette: They say you're the man who shot him.
Charles Winstead: That's right. One of 'em.
Billie Frechette: So why are you coming here to see me? To see the damage you done?
Charles Winstead: No. I came here because he asked me to. When he went down, he said somethin'. I put my ear next to his mouth, and what I think he said was this. He said, 'Tell Billie for me: Bye bye, Blackbird.'
[Billie starts to cry as Winstead gets up to leave]
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Soundtracks

Love Me or Leave Me
(1928)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Lyrics by Gus Kahn
Performed by Billie Holiday featuring Teddy Wilson and His Orchestra
Courtesy of Columbia Records
By Arrangement with Sony Music Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Back to the '30s with Mann
20 August 2009 | by Hawley_GriffinSee all my reviews

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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