The true story of notorious American gangster John Dillinger
and the intense FBI hunt to bring him and his friends down.
Public Enemies (2009)
Directed by Michael Mann
Written by Michael Mann, Ronan Bennett, Ann Biderman
Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard,
Billy Crudup, Jason Clarke, Stephen Dorff, Stephen Lang
Based on the book by Bryan Burrough
Public Enemies is another solid gangster film from director Michael Mann. Backed by powerful performances from the main cast and great set piece moments, this stands as one of Mann's better films. The only things holding it back the director's decision to film the entire movie in digital HD video and the occasional drag in the story. Other than that, you can't do much wrong with this particular gangster flick.
While the cast in general do a phenomenal job in their roles, most of the praise must go to both Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Both actors completely disappear in their roles as John Dillinger and Melvin Purvis, respectively. Depp expertly plays a gangster that the American public couldn't get enough of. Meanwhile, Bale does great as the Fed doing whatever it takes to bring Dillinger down. Public Enemies is also home to several great set pieces, from jail escapes, to bank robberies, and several intense gunfights; this film definitely knows how to stage the big set piece moments. Now if only I could have seen some of these great moments a lot more clearly. Director Michael Mann makes the decision to film entirely in digital HD. While some of the film looks fantastic because of it, there's also a good chunk that looks pretty atrocious. One great example is a nighttime gunfight sequence which is quite hard to make out what's happening. Also, for all the great, riveting moments present in the film, it does tend to drag at times. Specifically, the instances where the movie focuses on Dillinger's love life.
While Public Enemies is another strong showing from Michael Mann, I also wouldn't consider it one of his best. Even though the picture quality isn't always the greatest and the film can drag, the performances are top notch and there are several great set pieces. If anything, Public Enemies is an interesting look at one of America's most notorious gangsters.