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Based on Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book, this is the story of John Dillinger (Jonny Depp) and his bank robbing associates, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis and George "Babyface" Nelson. In depression era America a team of bank robbers play a relentless game of cat and mouse with the authorities, as they avoid capture, are captured and repeatedly escape prison to rob again. In the time of James Cagney and Clarke Gable, Dillinger, ever conscious of his public image, rose to become something of Robin Hood figure in the eyes of some. However, for the hugely ambitious Federal Crime administrator and pioneer, J. Edgar Hoover, Dillinger is the excuse he provides to exerted more power. He puts his untested "G Men" led by the determined Purvis (Christian Bale) to the task of hunting down the whole gang...
Dubbed as Michael Mann's new "Heat", "Public Enemies" had the proverbial sizzle without the anticipated bang of its predecessor. How alike are the two movies? Well, both centre on a charismatic leader of a bank robbing team and his nemesis, a driven cop. Both roles are taken on by two of the darlings of the movie acting world. Like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, are movie stars that have proven to be great actors too. However, the balance is not quite the same. De Niro and Pacino have been compared since Godfather Part II and few critics can get a cigarette paper between them as far acting ability or star quality goes. They are on even ground and many would argue after their second team-up, that ground is on something of a steep slope as they seem destined to slide into the later problems of Marlon Brando's career. Depp and Bale are not evenly matched. This is not to say one has better acting ability than the other, but Depp is the current undisputed occupier of the mega star throne. Bale is a rapidly climbing pretender to the position, but he is up against Leonardo De Caprio and others of his generation.
The characters they play do help us see Bale being placed on an even footing either. Depp is given the perfect opportunity to do the stuff he does best. It has been a while since we've seen play anything remotely straight for a while. Here he returns to similar territory he explored with "Blow", providing a three dimensional personality behind a real-life criminal icon. Unfortunately for Bale he is thrown the Elliot Ness-type role that Kevin Costner played in Brian De Palmer's "The Untouchables". Costner was brilliantly casted in this respect as his limited and wooden acting leant themselves superbly to the role of a straight-laced puritanical cop who would always be the straight man to Sean Connery's scene stealing Malone and De Niro's charismatic Al Capone. Bale does a credible job, but you feel his understated performance wastes the talents of an actor of his capabilities.
I am discussing the two lead actors in this picture because the whole film is clearly pegged on them. It's a team-up that many movie fans were looking forward to, having been robbed of a Johnny Depp/Heath Ledger match-up in Terry Gilliam's film, "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus". According to an interview in "Empire" magazine Gilliam, Depp turned down a role opposite Ledger due to fears over competition. For some reason - and maybe it was the script - he didn't have similar concerns with the very promising Bale. I was hoping to see an acting stand-off comparable to Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson's golden verbal duals in "A Few Good Men". Sadly "Public Enemies" doesn't have the script to carry this sort of thing off. In its defence Purvis and Dillinger never actually met, so I guess I cannot fault it for attempting some sort of stand-off the brief and only scene that Depp and Bale share. Who would have thought I - a decrier of "JFK" and "Braveheart" - would bemoan a film for not being more liberal with history.
The story loses many ample opportunities that it could have drawn from real history. In reality John Dillinger's fame and elevation to the position of Public Enemy Number One was an overblown publicity sham. Yes, he was a daring bandit who cultivated media interest, but much of this was down to the ambitions of J. Edgar Hoover who spent much of the 1930s and '40s turning hoodlums like Dillinger, Karpis and the Barkers into infamous legends whilst covering up his own ineptitude to deal with the serious fallout after Prohibition. In short, Hoover denied the existence of the mafia or any sort of organized crime network up until the 1960s. This was in spite of the fact he appropriated the moniker Public Enemy and Public Enemy Number One from the Prohibition era gangsters. Before Dillinger, Nelson, Karpis, the Barker gang and Bonnie and Clyde this term was applied Al Capone, "Bugs" Moran and other Chicago mafia gangsters. "Public Enemies" doesn't do anything but help propagate the same old myths. Granted Hoover isn't painted in a particularly pleasing light and Purvis just comes across as the pressurized G Man leader, forced out of his league to help propel his boss's ambitions. We don't get to see much of Dillinger's associates either. Make no mistake; the film's title is a misnomer. It should not have been pluralized. We see virtually nothing of Karpis, the Barker gang are only referenced, Bonnie and Clyde are completely absent and even "Babyface" Nelson is a relatively two-dimensional figure. This film is all about the legend of John Dillinger and the mission to take him down.
Style-wise Mann is a refreshing director. The action sequences have a certain feel of realism to them. There is little in the way of incidental music and you do feel like you are watching a TV documentary rather than a feature film sometimes. This doesn't mean there isn't much music. The obligatory orchestral scores come into play, but Mann is very sparing with them and it makes for a different type of crime action drama. The film should win good marks for being far more historically accurate than the majority of Hollywoodizations of famous real life stories. There is much obvious romancing, but one breakout scene - the famous "wooden gun" incident - is actually toned down considerably, with Dillinger taking far less hostages than he actually did. Now there is a text book example of life being too far-fetched for cinema! Outside of that I also give credit for writing team's basing certain imagined ideas on more than a semblance of truth. Mann does mess with the timeline for dramatic reasons, but this is forgivable. The acting all round is excellent and only let down by a lumbering and predictable script. "Public Enemies" is a fairly enjoyable film, but with many missed opportunities.
Collateral director Michael Mann tells the true story of depression-era bank robber and Public Enemy number one John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), his devoted true love Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) and the FBI man in pursuit, Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale).
As you would expect from the director of Heat, Public Enemies' shootouts (from prison breakouts to bank robberies gone awry) are stunningly executed, Mann's use of digital cameras giving the action a raw immediacy. And this being Mann, the story lacks any flab, the film moving along at breakneck speed.
However, it's the performances that really elevate Public Enemies to greatness. From an incredible, on-form cast, special mention must go to Marion Cotillard, fantastic as Dillinger's mistress, and Stephen Graham, channelling psychotic rage as Baby Face Nelson. Depp, though, is the standout, giving one of his best ever performances in a rare serious role as Dillinger. His and Cotillard's doomed romance is the emotional backbone of the film - the pair have such a believable chemistry that the inevitable climax is downright shattering.
There are criticisms. Christian Bale is thanklessly given a character so underwritten he's in danger of disappearing in a move that cruelly dismisses Bale's best-of-his-generation talents. The digital camerawork, which most of the time offers an effective and interesting approach, does also sometimes make Enemies appear amateurish, but these negatives don't do much to detract from what is something of a modern gangster classic.
This was such a good movie. You don't have to like action movies, dramas, or even historical fiction movies to enjoy this film through and through.
Johnny Depp delivers a captivating performance as the smooth-talking and always dangerous John Dillinger. Christian Bale plays the role of Melvin Pervis, a high-profile criminal catcher that everyone loves to hate whose new target for capture becomes our hero, Mr. Dillinger. I was even blown away by Marion Cotillard and her performance as Dillinger's lover/girlfriend. I must also say that this French beauty is my new Hollywood crush.
It was a great script with a great storyline, even if it is mostly non-fiction. Although the movie is based on the life and crimes of John Dillinger and his associates, there are some parts that were altered in order to make it that much more interesting to moviegoers. So don't believe EVERYTHING that happens, but you can believe that the majority of the script occurred in real life.
This movie has great acting by the entire cast, even if the cast is full of unknowns (aside from Mr. Depp and Mr. Bale.
Public Enemies is overall one of the best movies that I've had the pleasure of seeing this year. It keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout, teaches you a history lesson or two, and shows you what quality acting is all about.
In Michael Mann's directed Public Enemies, Johnny Depp plays the notorious real-life mobster John Dillinger. The film is set in the times of the depression in the early 1930's. It depicts the period where Dillinger was at his most notorious, robbing banks aplenty and making numerous enemies, through to his ultimate demise.
In public Dillinger was always very polite and caring to everyone. Although notorious this made him popular with the public and they would often help him to hide when needed. Dillinger wasn't scared of the authorities. He would often go to clubs and cinemas in public without worrying about a response from the police. In his over-confident manner, he famously said that he was too clever for the police force, which eventually lead to his downfall.
For Johnny Depp this role is quite different from his normal quirky, exaggerated characters. Like the action his performance is understated, realistic and convincing. He adapts really well to the change of character and plays the role exceptionally well.
Christian Bale plays Melvin Purvis who heads the FBI unit charged with bringing down Dillinger's mob. He likes to use 'modern' methods, such as phone-tapping and fingerprinting to help him solve the crimes. His role is fairly quiet and brooding, and ultimately not very spectacular.
Dillinger's love interest is Billie Frechette played ably by Marion Cotillard. Billie stands by her man regardless of the situation and the consequences.
Public Enemies is loosely based on real events, but a fair bit has been changed. I always think it's strange that history needs to be rewritten for movies. Most notably here, the deaths of John Dillinger's friends are out of sequence, with some of them dieing before he did - despite the fact that they outlived him in real life. From what I know John's life was as flamboyant as is depicted in the film so I don't understand why things needed to be altered for the movie.
The film isn't quite in the same league as previous Michael Mann productions such as Collateral or Heat, which were considerably more tense and gripping. It's a bit long at 2 hours and 20 minutes and it just wasn't captivating enough. The relationship between Dillinger and Purvis is a bit feeble; a much more intense battle between them would have made it more compelling. It is however wonderfully shot, and depicts the times beautifully. Overall, rather disappointing.
Public Enemies is set in 1933 during the American Depression. Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) is a Bureau Of Investigation agent determined to catch criminals John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) and Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham). After Purvis kills Floyd he is promoted by J.Edgar Hoover because they both believe in scientific methods in solving crime including tapping phone lines and cataloging fingerprints.
The film focuses quite considerably on the relationship between Dillinger and his girlfriend Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) who he meets at a restaurant and buys a fur coat. Despite his life of crime Billie will stop at anything to protect Dillinger and near the end of the film lies about his whereabouts even though she is being beaten up by an FBI agent called Harold Reinecke (Adam Mucci).
There are lots of bank robberies and break outs from jail during the film and quite a lot of bloodshed. However the film is still only a "15".
Johnny Depp is good as Dillinger and steals all the best scenes. Marion Cotillard puts in a fine performance as his girlfriend Billie. Disappointingly Bale's portrayal of Purvis falls considerably short for me. He lacks personality and charisma. Bale's performance is almost wooden. I was hoping that Depp and Bale would have a similar rapport to that of Leonardo Di Caprio and Tom Hanks in Catch Me If You Can. However this is never evident during Public Enemies.
The sets are brilliant and are a perfect representation of 1930s America and the clips of Manhattan Melodrama starring Clark Gable are a nice touch but Public Enemies could have been more of a success with one or two tweeks here and there, particularly in the cast. Christian Bale in my opinion let the film down. His performance was weak. He should and could have put a bit more effort into his character.
Public Enemies was directed and co-written by Michael Mann (Last Of The Mohicans). It was based on Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth Of The FBI, 1933-34.
Johnny Depp is brilliant in Michael Mann's trigger-happy American crime drama Public Enemies. As the notorious bank robber, John Dillinger, he is violent and morally consistent, slick and stylish, with a menacing look in his eyes for every scene that he takes centre stage. Furthermore, his interpretation is so assured and believable that it will prompt discussion between viewers about the media's obsession with the real-life criminal methods of the gangster and his crew during the public enemy era (1931-1935) after watching. It really is a fascinating depiction of Dillinger's absolute pinnacle to his eventual death.
Certainly, Depp's performance carries a lot of weight in this film. His character is well researched to the point that we believe he has become Dillinger. Everything from his arrogant smirk, the way he moves, and the way he dresses (credit should go to the art directors here) seems very convincing in its replication of the real-life human being (compare with this video). Many films have parodied the smartly-dressed gangster with the Tommy Gun from the 1930s, but there is a genuinity in how Depp acts here that you cannot help but take him seriously and respect him. Even though his character is a robber and a killer, we end up rooting for him, which is quite an achievement.
In regards to the other actors involved, Christian Bale, while not on the same level as Depp, gives a fine performance as Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent responsible for tracking down Dillinger and his crew (made up of Jason Clarke, Stephen Dorff, David Wenham, Stephen Graham, and others). It is Marion Cotillard as Billie Frechette, the loyal girlfriend to the Dillinger, however, that is most impressive of all the characters involved, aside from Depp; her performance is so captivating that becomes pretty easy to interpret the amount of pain she is suffering under the interrogation of a brutal agent past mid point, in the most eye-opening scene of the film.
It's just unfortunate that, apart from the likable charisma of the main actors involved and the scene just mentioned, that there aren't that many standout moments throughout the duration of Public Enemies. The film, which is a fictionalized account of the true events between Dillinger and the law on his tail, is concerned with the last fourteen months of the bank robber's life; it prefers not to go into the history of his childhood or the psychology of his crimes. This may well suit some people, but having briefly studied Dillinger prior to watching, I never really felt immersed in the world of the film as I thought I would be; thus, I found the overall experience more disappointing than satisfying in this department.
The main reason for this is because the film is not a biopic, as some people may like to deceive others into thinking; it's actually an old-fashioned cops 'n' robbers thriller that strives to match Mann's greatest achievement, Heat (at one point, Depp's character actually uses the exact same line of dialogue as De Niro did in 1995). Considering the sheer brilliance of the aforementioned film, there's nothing particularly wrong with this; what Public Enemies lacks in depth, it makes up with some well-choreographed action sequences shot in crisp, high-def cinematography, making the film seem visually appealing. But, generally speaking, it lacks that certain "oomph" to make it seem significant alongside Mann's best film, as well as other highly-regarded films in the crime genre (The Godfather, The Departed). In truth, I expected more.
My main gripe is with the script. Often you'll find that a lot of the supporting characters in Dillinger's gang are thrown into the story without any introduction. Even if you have a slight knowledge of the criminal associates from the era -- Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, Charles Makley, Homer Van Meter -- it's pretty easy to lose track of who everyone is, and it therefore becomes difficult to feel connected to them when the law intervenes with their behaviour. Public Enemies lacks suspense as a result; as good as Depp and Bale are as separate entities, there is never a feeling that the mythical rivalry between Dillinger and Purvis is the intense driving force behind the movie, which is what I was most looking forward to beforehand.
While Public Enemies doesn't ascend to the heights of the Heat or the most respected gangster films, it is nevertheless pretty entertaining. It may sound as if I'm flickering between the good and the not-so-good aspects of the film, and that's because I perceived this a very dualistic affair. My mind is telling me that I liked a majority of the characters, enjoyed the action scenes, and can commend the way the film looked via the rich art direction and cinematography. But the bottom line is it just didn't contain enough magic for me to make it a great film.
Public enemies is based on real events that happened in the 1930's and 40's.
The story follows John Dillinger, a famous bank robber, through his criminal career. The film begins with him appearing to be taken to jail, however it soon becomes apparent he had no intention of getting locked up. The movie follows various bank robberies he performed, his love interests and ultimately his downfall.
I love both Christian Bale and Johnny Depp, and they didn't disappoint. Each played their characters well, Depp being cool yet dangerous at all times, and Bale being calm and intelligent. I've no doubt this film would probably take quite a few viewings before the plot is fully understood, since its a complicated one.
This isn't really a good thing. Personally I was very disappointed in the way the plot was told. I understand that films have to be cut down to a reasonable length, but not to the point where the plot is very difficult to follow. One moment something happens and bam, without warning its days, weeks, or months later for all I know. Key example is when Dillinger is arrested, suddenly hes in court, then suddenly again its back to prison scene and hes breaking out. By the time I'd realised he'd been sent to jail and processed what happened with the court case, he'd already broken out! Because of the briefness of the plot, it just felt too thin. He spots a woman across a bar, takes her to a restaurant where they seem to have half a conversation before leaving, he then finds her another time (again no idea of timescale), they go back to his flat and suddenly they're madly in love! I don't know if this was meant to be a big romantic love at first sight kind of feek, but it was just rushed.
All throughout the film the plot was jumping all over the place. I don't know if it was just me but sometimes I found the dialect difficult to hear, perhaps its just my sound system but the dialect was quiet but the gunshots incredibly loud. This meant I had to sit with the DVD remote all through the film flicking the volume up and down to compensate. Which meant I missed a lot of the conversations. This is either just a personal problem or they failed to balance their volumes correctly.
In my opinion, this takes a few watches before you'll fully understand the plot, and quite simply it isn't interesting enough to watch more than the once.
It is the 1930's in America and Jon Dillinger is Public Enemy number 1. He lived in Chicago where he robbed banks with his gang. He has recently come out of jail after 9 years but 2 weeks after his release he is back inside but unbeknown to the guards he is there to break out his gang. After the break out Dillinger and his gang set to work on making money and getting their lifestyles back.
J Edgar Hoover has recently formed the FBI and he has set the task of leading the team of officers to track down Dillinger to Agent Melvin Purvis. This is not going to be an easy job though as Dillinger is very clever at his job and he does not let anyone or anything get in his way, that is however until he meets Billie Frenchette who he falls n love with.
Dillinger is making plans for his and Billie's future with the funding coming from one last job but with Melvin Purvis on his tail things are proving to be a little harder than expected.
Will Dillinger get to pull of his big job and live out his plans with Billie or will Melvin prove what a good Agent he is and finally manage to bring him down?
I really was looking forward to seeing this film as I have never seen a bad film where Johnny Depp has been the star and I can say that this one did not disappoint. The storyline was very good and I did actually learn about Dillinger from this film, it was a name I was aware of but I never knew the extent of his life before the film. I loved how the film went back to the 1930's as the settings were really good and I loved seeing the old way of life.
For me the star of the film was definitely Johnny Depp, he gave an excellent performance playing the role of John Dillinger and I think he suited the 1030's costumes extremely well. He came across as cool and smooth and did not seem phased at all with the work he was carrying out. I did like the slight change in his attitude once he fell for Billie as this seemed to show a slightly softer side to his character. There was a good chemistry between both him and Billie and this worked well on screen. I think I liked the relationship between the couple as Billie was a normal woman and she was not a superstar who was more concerned with her looks and money, Billie played by Marion Cotillard was a normal down to earth woman who was taken by surprise with the affections of Dillinger and I think this is what made the relationship work and seem more genuine. She had a good screen presence and I loved the naivety of her as a person.
Christian Bale took the hard role of Agent Melvin Purvis and I have to say I was impressed with his performance, I think I would have liked to have seen slightly more of his character and got to have known more about him. He had the low rough voice as in the film Batman but for some reason it did suit him in this film, he also looked very good in his 1930's clothing and fitted in very well. There are a lot of supporting actors in this film, including gang members and police officers and they all did a good job and did actually manage to bring a little bit of depth to the film. There were a few stand out performance which included the acting skills of, James Russo, John Judd, Stephan Dorff, Carey Mulligan and many others.
The film was set in the 1930's and this was very apparent right from the opening scene. I think a lot of time and effort went into the costumes and sets for the film as they all looked so good and authentic. I did love seeing the old fashioned guns and cars and think they are what made the film more enjoyable to watch. The special effects throughout the film were very good and looked real, there are a lot of shoot outs in the film and one thing which hubby did point out was how real the gun firing sounded, he said that the tin cap noise is how they do sound and not all guns make big bangs like they get portrayed in some films. The places when people got shot and killed was all made well and the injuries all looked authentic.
The music in the film did pass me by, I only watched this film last night and even now I cannot remember a single music piece from the film, I did remember at the time of watching thinking that it did help with the tensions and atmosphere of the film but it was nothing special.
The DVD which I have does have a bonus feature of a commentary with Director Michael Mann but as I am not a fan of these features I have not taken the time to watch so I am unable to comment on it.
The running time of this film is 2 hours and 14 minutes and I have to be honest and say that both me and hubby felt this was slightly too long, we at times found the storyline did start to get slow and drag and we both feel that the film could have been shortened by about 20 minutes and nothing really would have been lost. The certificate is a 15 as it contains string violence and I do definitely agree with this. The DVD is available for juts under £5 from Amazon and £7 in Tesco and I feel this is a great price.
Overall do highly recommend this film as it has great acting, a great storyline which is full of gun fights and the ending is not what expected it to be, I also liked the addition at the start of the credits to tell us what the characters in the film went on to do in their lives after this story. If Johnny Depp had not been the star of this film then I would have said this was more aimed for the male market but it is definitely appealing for the women now Depp has the lead. A 5* film from me despite the slow pace at times.
Public Enemies is the film based re-telling of the adventures and downfall of bank robber John Dillinger. So basically, its a bank robbery film, with Christian Bale playing the FBI agent tasked with hunting Dillinger and his gang down.
There's a love interest and plenty of chase scenes and gun fights. The sound effects are top notch, with the sorround sound plugged in and running, you really get sucked in.
There's something nice about watching bank robbers in suits with running around with Tommy Guns. Robbing from the rich and well....keeping it for themselves.
I'll be honest and say im not sure how true to real life the film is. I know the name John Dillinger and some of the other names in the film like "Baby Face Nelson", "Pretty Boy Floyd" and "Frank Nitty", but I don't know the history all that well. The nice thing is, you don't really have to. Just sit down and watch the chase.
I first saw the film at the cinema and since then I got it on Blu Ray for christmas. The Blu Ray edition is crisp and smooth, the picture quality is top notch as you might expect. The sound is just as good.
The second time, the film felt slower and longer than I remember it being the first time around. That's not to say that it's boring, it isn't. I found myself intrigued by the characters, annoyed at the "bad guys" who killed FBI agents in cold blood and happy to see them get taken down. Dillingers character is not portrayed as an evil man and you grow to like him. Nearly to the point of rooting for him, as so often is the case in films today. This leads to an odd feeling when you are rooting for him and Christian Bales character at the same time. Chase and being chased.
The addition of the love interest makes the film have more depth. Both Depp and Bale are as always supreme actors and carry off their characters with a finese that only they could manage.
It's a class film. If you enjoy gangsters, gun play and robbery then you'll enjoy this :)
This is the tale of the notorious gangster John Dillinger and his fellow gang members as they rob banks across America in depression era America.
Relesed in 2009 and directed by Michael Mann.
Dillinger gained public admiration as he would never take customers money during bank raids.
The film begins with Dillinger returning to the jail he has recently been released from and frees his fellow prisoners.
The gang raid countless banks and get away with it by paying off crooked police officers.
Dillinger (Johnny Depp) meets and falls in love with Billie Frechette.
Plenty of gun battles which follow the last few years of Dillinger and his cronies as they are hunted down one by one by Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale)
The crime spree saw the FBI being formed as the police struggled to halt the violence that washed across America.
Depp is brilliant as Dillinger in this film it never fails to amaze me how he seems able to take on the characters he plays so well.
There is also a great performance by our own Stephen Graham as Baby face Nelson.
Too many great actors to mention.
This was a wonderful trip to the past and I really enjoyed it, at 134 minutes it may be too long for some but it didnt seem that long to me.
Makes you realise what you could get away with before the invention of security cameras, TV ect.
The dvd is currently available from Amazon U.K for £9.98 with free super saver delivery included.
I enjoyed this gangster romp which is set in the 1930's durng the Great Depression when for many people crime offerred the only way to survive and Public Enemies features one of the best known bank robbers John Dillinger played by the excellent Johnny Depp and the man who tried to hunt him down FBI agent Melvin Purvis played by Christian Bale.
This is an action packed thriller with lots of shoot outs and stylised bank heists it is pure entertainment through and through and I assumed only pays a cursory glance to the true events that took place. It is a fast paced film that rarely pauses to ctach its breath and while it is not as good as the excellent Untouchables it is still good enough entertainemnt to warrant paying for the pleasure of seeing it.
It is a long film which is one of the draw backs, coming it at two and a half hours and this did test my endurance a bit.
Depp is excellent in the lead role, rarely does he ever deliver a shoddy performance and there is no danger of him doing one in this as he has a good script and plot to work with. Bale is rather under used in the film but he is competent enough when on camera.
Definitely a film I would recommend, it could probably do with being thirty minutes shorter through some brutal editing but I would still give it four stars overall just for sheer entertainment value and the chance to look at Depp in a sharp suit and hat.
As a rule, I don't appreciate gangster movies, over-long films or anyone being called "doll". On the flip-side, I quite like Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and dodgy 'taches. As such, I had mixed (and limited) expectations of Public Enemies - and for once was proved right.
A true-crime caper set in Depression-era America, the film follows fugitive bank-robber John Dillinger and FBI agent Melvin Purvis in their respective attempts to evade and capture the other. Amid jail-breaks, bank-raids and numerous shoot-outs, the story plays out as an extended cat-and-mouse chase, with a flimsy love-story thrown in for good measure.
Based on a non-fiction title (Public Enemies: America's greatest crimewave and the birth of the FBI - the subtitle neatly summing up the film's plot), the movie seems to stick fairly closely to the facts, yet director Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider) is able to construct an entertaining narrative that whisks along at a fair pace, despite the film's hefty running time of near-on two and a half hours. Perhaps this is one of the film's principal strengths; Public Enemies manages to find the right place between accuracy and entertainment, and tells a story that feels genuine and suitably fantastical at the same time.
A strong cast leads the film, and all do their jobs well. Depp plays Dillinger, and manages to refrain from presenting too much of a gangster-caricature in the role - if he doesn't give quite the depth he could to the character, it's the writing rather than his performance at fault. Similarly, Bale's interpretation of Purvis is a decent one, but knowing what he's capable of, it's hard not to feel like he's being held back somewhat, confined to an undemanding role as a straight-faced suit.
Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose) is equally convincing as Dillinger's love interest Billie Frechette, although again her role is for the most part a straightforward one. She does, though, get a chance to stretch her legs a bit towards the finale and throughout manages to render her character thoroughly believable.
It's the way in which the film asks so little of a talented cast that is most disappointing. Bale is frankly wasted in his role, while the film fails to give an impression of why Dillinger was thought of as something of a folk hero despite his crimes. Instead, a host of lazy clichés undermine the many good things the film can boast of - as much as Depp may try, he makes the best of a fairly dull role, while a talented supporting cast play out similarly basic characters, and some of the dialogue could have been taken from a secondary-school production of Bugsy Malone.
Admittedly, this kind of film isn't my cup of tea, and in asking for something more original perhaps I'm missing the point of Public Enemies. If you like true-crime affairs or have a particular interest in twentieth-century American history, this might be a sound investment. Certainly, there are aspects I appreciated; visually, 1930s United States is recreated wonderfully - the attention to detail is laudable and creates the perfect atmosphere for the film. The set-pieces too are well-done, and provide some of the highlights of the film.
All in all, I got what I expected. Fans of Depp will be rewarded by a strong central performance and a particularly natty straw boater-pencil 'tache combo, and those who have enjoyed Mann's previous work get a solid, stylish film that passes the time well enough without being one of his strongest efforts.
I never thought I would say it but I was seriously disappointed by a Johnny Depp film, and to make it worse its directed by Michael Mann, not a film maker you would normally associate with such a lifeless and boring film as this one. This is Depps worse effort since the 'Ninth Gate' (No, I didn't see Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...) and for Michael Mann a rare flop as director, a man who has been increasingly distracted by producing idiot Peter Berg movies, including the brash and brainless Miami Vice and the bombastic, chest thumping tripe that was 'The Kingdom', seriously putting Mann off his game. Mann just doesn't make movies like this and he needs to stop right now. Bland is not the word.
The problem for me with Depp is he made his name with Tim Burton and he can't do those movies any more, like Sean Penn can no longer get away with playing the angst ridden rebel every movie, the brat pack getting old. Tom Cruise is perhaps the only one of that fabled generation to avoid ending up another Matt Dillon. If Depp does anymore movies like this some will start to accuse him of going mainstream and lazy, and no wants that from one of cinemas most enigmatic thespians.
Johnny Depp ... John Dillinger
Christian Bale ... Melvin Purvis
Stephen Dorff ... Homer Van Meter
John Judd ... Turnkey
James Russo ... Walter Dietrich
David Wenham ... Harry 'Pete' Pierpont
Christian Stolte ... Charles Makley
Billy Crudup ... J. Edgar Hoover
Jason Clarke ... John 'Red' Hamilton
Michael Vieau ... Ed Shouse
Wesley Walker ... Jim Leslie
John Scherp ... Earl Adams
Elena Kenney ... Viola Norris
Channing Tatum ... Pretty Boy Floyd
Peter 'Mugsy' Defaria ... Grover Weyland
Dillinger (Depp) and Pretty Boy Floyd (Channing Tatum) and some tagalongs have just busted out of another prison, 'Mugsy' Weyland (Peter Defaria) catching a slug and no more. But Dillinger doesn't take passengers and is soon racing to Chicago to rob some more banks.
F.B.I Chief J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) has had enough of America's most notorious criminal after this latest jail break, his third in two years, and so decide to get tough, employing G-Men enforcers with sweeping powers to bring him down and any that run with him. Dillinger is swanning around with impunity and it's making the agency look bad. But when Lieutenant Harry 'Pete' Pierpont (David Wenham) fails miserably to catch him, and two people are killed in another robbery, he is relieved of his duties, Agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) taking over as acting head. Purvis is no pussy cat and soon toughens up his team to break some skulls and bring down Dillinger his way. Meanwhile Dillinger has fallen for a dame (Elena Kenney), maybe his first mistake, women every mans weakness. But there's still time for more jail breaks, more shootouts and more robberies...bla bla bla...
This is Depps Bugsy Malone moment (where is Scott Baio now!), rather than Warren Beatty's Bobbie & Clyde triumph, the temptation to have a pencil thin mustache and brylcream hair too much to resist for one of cinemas most interesting actors. I suppose its Mann's, Alan Parker moment to, the director of the dreadful and misguided Bugsy never really recovering from that one either. Don't get me wrong, Depp is all very fine as Dillenger, a tip of the Fedora hat here and a cigar chewing moment there showing he enjoyed playing the role. But if your doing a biopic on a notorious American pre war gangster, one the rest of the world knows little about, only the name vaguely familiar and so the only clue (I thought he was a politician to be honest), presumably that is exactly why Depp and Mann took this role on, an effort to bring Dillinger alive. But Dillinger ended up in a box, of course, just like this movie should.
It's a shame really as Mann normally does subtle and style quite well, lending his touch to the Dillinger legend a good idea in principle. But it was not to be and all very dull. He's at home in his native Los Angeles with films like The Insider and Heat, not the 1930s with Hollywood's most iconic gothic actor since Bela Lugosi. This was a bad pick for Mann and, of course, ultimately it was a bad pick for Depp because the director's heart clearly wasn't in it. What could have been an interesting biopic was just another bland and stale gangster film, Depp failing to educate us on the man and what makes him tick, adding no meat to the character. Every time we get close to the man there's another gunfight or prison break to distract us again, this becoming a simple shoot em up. In fact this is a surprisingly shallow performance from Depp. Christian Bale is also wasted here. This is no 'Goodfellas' guys! The fact this films only nomination was the 'Teen Choice Award' kind of sums up its immaturity for what should have been a smart grown up movie. Unless your in love with Depp then just don't bother guys.
= = = = Special Features = = = =
Michael Mann talks up and about his tedious film.
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Imdb.com - 7.3 out of 10 (49,444 votes)
RuN-TiMe 140 minutes
Blockbusters- any 2 films for 2 nights for £5 deal.
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I am a big film fan and try to watch alot of DVD's and go to the cinema. I have wanted to watch this for ages and finally bought the DVD yesterday, I was very glad I did, what a great film!
The film is set in 1933, four years into the depression and mainly in Chicago. The film is directed by Michael Mann and is based around John Dillinger a notorious bank robber played by Johny Depp, and Melvin Purvis, a hopeless cop trying to catch him, played by Christian Bale.
I was hooked at the first scene of the film, a prison escape where John Dillinger helps to break his bank robbing friends out of jail. The film then goes on to follow Dillinger and his friends on their bank robbing escapades around America and shows him falling in love with a cloakroom attendant Billie Frechette played by Marion Cotillard.
We also see Melvin Purvis and his useless police force trying to find ways of catching Dillinger and his gang. During the fim I found myself liking John Dillinger more and more and wanting him not to get caught. You see his ruthless side when he is robbing the banks but you also see his caring side when he vows to take care of Billie and his humerous side when he leaves a man to pay his money into the bank during a robbery, telling him its the banks money he wants, not his!
You can tell Melvin Purvis is a man who wants to do the right thing and protect the public but I found myself not liking him and his associates. They are a pathetic bunch who seem to get things wrong all the time and even when dillinger walks into the police station and has a wander round their office, they still don't manage to catch him! They resort to torture and beating Billie to try to find Dillinger and you get the impression that Purvis' life has been taken over by desperation to arrest Dillinger and this is clouding his judgement. The only time I found myself liking him was when he carried Billie out of the interview room after she had been beaten by one of his colleagues without him knowing.
I won't give away what happens at the end as this film is definately worth a watch, but the last few scenes are very dramatic, the tension is built up and up, this is done very well and keeps you hooked right to the end.
Overall I would say this film is brilliant, I loved it. Johny Depp is fantastic as per usual, he is super cool and needless to say very good looking in the film and the chemistry between him and Billie is very believeable. I loved Marion Cotillard as Billie, I thought she acted really well and bought extra glamour to the film. The main downside of the film however, is Bale who's acting I thought to be a bit poor, and I did think he let the film down slightly. The film is based on a true story and this makes it even better for me as I always think its more interesting when you know the characters were real people and the events actaully happened, well with some hollywood embellishments im sure! When the film is finished we are told what happened to the remaining characters which was a nice touch.
Overall I have given this film 4 stars, the main reason it lost one was because of Bale. If you like glamorous gangster films, then this one's for you, the outfits are brilliant and I love the old cars. Definately worth a watch, even just to drool over Depp!
Once again had no idea what this film was about and was only shallow-ly swayed into watching it for two pleasurable hours of swooning over Johnny Depp. The film was actually 2hrs 20 mins so the 20 mins of extra swooning.
I digress! So Public Enemies, sounds like some sort of action film that I'd hate, but the fact it was set in the 1930s made it interesting. Instead of being a modern film set in New York, its old and romantic and they drive the best old cars! The film is about a group of gangsters, and it had me hooked from the first scene which has a great twist at the end of it, you think one thing is happening, and the opposite happens. I liked that.
The film is centred around a gangster called John Dillinger and I found out later it is based on a true story (with a few hollywood embellishments!), he is a gangster who robs banks with his band of men. I liked the fast pace of the film which showed the bank robberies very quickly and straightforward (good job as there was at least 4 in the film).
The "police" department (headed by Christian Bale) was shockingly bad and seemed to miss him at every given opportunity, every single time they saw him (including walking past him in the street, and him walking right into their offices) they bungled his capture. You spend the whole film wondering if he will evade capture for good, or when he will get captured.
Johnny Depp does wonderfully at playing John Dillinger, he is cold, callous to people who get in his way, but for the girl he loves (Billie) and for his friends he really looks out for them. I found myself really caring for the character (and did I mention he is totally gorgeous?). He says he will look after the girl and does. One of the first scenes when she is working in the cloakroom made me laugh a lot and is really a sparkle of Depp's magic. I loved it.
Bale, as usual, completely lets me down. I quite liked him in Batman, but all the other films, this one included I'm just not convinced by his character at all. I found myself rooting for the bad guy all the time, but the acting from Bale was poor.
Overall the film was really good, I found myself on edge wondering what was going to happen, and it didn't really feel overly long even though it was over 2 hours. There was a lot of violence, gory in places, a mild "intimate" scene and no swearing (from memory). Overall watch it!!