The first movie I watched since I returned from China plus today was my birthday and Public Enemies was a film I was eagerly waiting to watch this since it came out the start of July and it wasn’t even released in China yet.
Johnny Depp plays John and the renowned gangster (not as a big and known as Al Capone) during the depression years of America’s 1930’s, folk hero to the people but public enemy number one to the FBI. The film offers a near factual account of Dillinger’s last years around 1933/34 when he and his fellow gangster robbed two dozen banks. This was booming time for crime and a certain J Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) creates the FBI to combat againt the crime, sending his G-Man Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) to hunt down Dillinger using techniques which were new to them.
The opening scene is excellent, you are lead to believe Dillinger has been captured and led back to prison but it’s all a ploy to get inside and break out many of his fellow gangsters Harry “pete” Pierpont (David Wenham), Homer Van Meter(Stephen Dorff), Pretty boy Floyd(Channing Tatum) and Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham). This is visually excellent piece of cinematography (all done in HD video), but so much of this film, the nighttime, the cars, etc…. But you can’t get everything perfect so at times it just felt out of place.
It was good they didnt do flashbacks of Dillinger’s childhood but instead letting the man tell you verbally(important to know his childhood was hard with beating from his father).If Mann decided to delve into Dillinger’s childhood the 2hours 40minute film time would be over 3 hours and people would get really bored as the film is very slow when the gun battles/heists are not happening plus it’s only his last months which are. What Mann should have done was to give us a little more insight to the other characters of the movie as you rarely knew much about them (or even who they were at times), so to understand who they are its good to find out a little background info and develop this film.
Johnny Depp was made for this part and he gives a good rendition of the anti-hero, charming, simple, cool and very cocky (like walking into FBI HQ near the end when the FBI search out the Chicago cinema which Dillinger will be killed at). He’s also manipulative with his use of the press as well the cat and mouse chase he has with Purvis which I have to say once again is played by a Cardboard Cutout called Bale, This is like watching Terminator again, very monotone performance (learn to add emotion to your craft!!!). Even his reaction to finding one of his FBI agents beating a woman, Billy Franchette Dillinger’s girlfriend was disturbing and wrong (as was the beating of a woman). Marion Cottilard’s performance was good as it shows Dillinger’s manipulative power and their ill fated relationship. At times you feel sorry Dillinger as you feel at times he does want to give up the crime and start a fresh, but he has the just one more time mentality as well as an influence of his gangster buddy’s, you actually forget he was a cold blooded killer.
Public Enemies was a good film, very solid summer movie after much of the crap (as well as decent) we been subjected to already. People expected alot from this movie (me as well) but you would be asking for too much. Interesting story, good action (best scene the forest lodge shout out), decent storyline let down due to lack of depth to some characters but Michael Mann does deliver a modern retake of an old fashioned gangster film. One of the better summer movies, but not a oscar winning performance.
★★★1/2| Paul Devine
Crime, Drama | USA, 2009 | 15 | 1st July 2009 (UK) | Universal Pictures | Dir.Michael Mann | Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cottilard, Billy Cudrup, Stephen Graham, Stephen Dorff
Originally posted at The Peoples Movies | 2nd August 2009