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Public Enemy No. 1 - Christian Bale, get him off our screens!!
Public Enemies (DVD)
Member Name: magenta23
Public Enemies (DVD)
Date: 09/07/09, updated on 09/07/09 (77 review reads)
Advantages: Depp. Without him this would have 1 star.
Disadvantages: Lack of substance, escapism, and Mr. Bale
I find it difficult to write constructive review on a film that disappointed so much, without it turning into a rant, but I'll try my best!
Public Enemies is the latest film offering from director Michael Mann and tells the true story of notorious bank robber, John Dillenger (played by Johnny Depp). The film is set in the 1930s in America during the great depression and follows FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) as he tries to track down Dillenger, America's 'Public Enemy' number one, and his fellow most wanted criminals Pretty Boy Floyd and Baby Face Nelson. Along the way, after bank jobs, killings and breakouts, John meets Billie Frechette, his love interest for whom intends to do 'one last job' so they can get away forever...
I won't go to much into plot as there are many twists and turns I do not want to spoil the plot for others. I must admit gangster films aren't usually my thing and this probably has something to do with the fact I was bored out of my brains for two thirds of this film. Ordinarily, I wouldn't have picked a film like this to see, but I am such a fan of Depp, not only for his looks and acting ability, but for his knack of picking a great script. I guess you can't get it right all the time.
I should have known really, generally 'based on a true story' = boring. I thing film should be a bit of escapism, and whilst robbing banks isn't part of my day to day chores I still felt it was lacking in that sense of fantasy that, for me is the whole point of film and theatre.
I'm never sure with these type of films whether the audience is supposed to siding with the villain or the good cop here. Much as he's robbing the public and killing people left right and centre, I felt much more along the side of Dillenger than Purvis. I suspect, however, if I was a citizen in America during the thirties, having lost a lot of money during the Great Depression, I wouldn't feel as warmly for John Dillenger as the audience do watching Depp portray him. Maybe also, this is to do with acting ability of the two lead men. Johnny Depp, as ever carries this film, he can tell the audience more about his character with one small movement of an eyebrow that Bale can with his entire body. Christian Bale was so cringeworthy I felt myself laughing at some points, so far away from that great performance when I first saw him in Velvet Goldmine, Batman has gone to his head somewhat and all that shone through in this performance was his own arrogance and self importance, not a convincing portrayal of an FBI agent. In fact, I had an overwhelming urge to shoot him myself... maybe his shocking performance was all planned, to get me into a gangster mindset?!
The other character, who I felt I was supposed to have some connection with as a viewer was Billie Frechette, played by the beautiful Marion Cotillard. She is spotted by Dillenger on a night out and he tells her exactly who he is and tells her she is going to be his girl. She of course goes along with all this, silly cow! I couldn't have any sympathy for a girl who just agrees on a second meeting to run off with a bank robber she barely knows!! One of the lines of the movie that made me laugh out loud came when Billie is slapped by an officer trying to get information out of her as to the whereabouts of Dillenger. She basically says to the guy, you know what going to happen to him when John finds out he's been slapping around his girl! Surely, for someone who makes his money from shooting people's brains out, he'd be a little bit of hypocrit, no??
As far as the rest of the charcters go, well who's who? Dillenger, seems to have so many men, who run around after him but no one is really introduced it's very hard to tell who is who.
To give it it's dues, the film is shot beautifully, it is slick and shiny like a big Hollywood film should be, the music is perfect and it looks classy. For me, this sheen doesn't cover up a frankly, boring script. If you like shot out scenes and car chases, lots of blood and shady characters muttering to one another, you won't be disappointed. This film has all the trademarks or a gangster flick. Personally watching people get shot isn't my idea of fun and for the first two thirds of this film, I found these a scenes a little too much to the point of dull.
Further on in the film, the plot begins to unravel and build in tension, however with some confusion. With so many bluffs and double bluffs between the FBI and the criminals I found myself a little confused as to who had set up what. I feel a little faster pace at the beginning and a little more clarity towards the end would help this film no end.
One part you must watch out for is when Dillenger takes stroll around the FBI dept after him, unnoticed. Did this bit really happen?.. I'm not so sure but it raised a smile none the less.
Overall, a slick gangster film that I feel is a boys film essentially as my other half loved it. Girls, if you are taking your man to see this, Johnny is looking fine so it's not all bad!
Best Performance - Johnny Depp
Worst Performance - Christian Bale
Best Line - "What's you name?" (Billie) "Jack" (Dillenger)....Sparrow??!
Rating - 15
Running Time - 140 mins (though feels longer)
Out - In cinemas only, now.
Summary: Go see if you like black suits and guns.