Public Enemies Review

July 16, 2009 at 4:28 pm (Movies)

This summer’s sleekest anti-hero is here, and he’s nearly 100 years old. Public Enemies is a side-step in a summer of modern action movies, and provides a movie going audience with a thrilling tale of the greatest criminal ever known from one of the darkest times in America. The story picks up with the rising of the criminal John Dillinger, and how he taking America and the imagination of its citizens by storm. However one man named Robert Purvis, along with the Bureau of Investigation, is standing against Dillinger’s efforts. Him and his colleagues will stop at nothing to end what could be considered the nation’s first war on terror. One of the prime eyecatchers for the movie goer might be those chosen to represent these classic American figures. Johnny Depp, one of the current most overrated actors, perfectly captures the essence of the American Robin Hood, and does so with the necessary strengthbut also with that needed charisma. Christian Bale, one of the current most underrated actors, is actually understandable in this one and performs very well going toe to toe with the nefarious Dillinger. Appearing alongside Bale and Depp is Billy Crudup (a.k.a. Dr. Manhattan), who actually wears pants in the movie, and serves as the straight stereotype of a G-man. Also featured is Marie Cotillard, who well portrays a young woman who loses her head to Dillingers bad boy persona. Michael Mann, as with previous films such as Heat and Collateral, directs the film with an expert class. Exery time we get just enough time with Purvis or Dillinger, the action switches angle to get another perspective of what’s going on. Each perspective of the topic getting just enough room. Mann also gets a thorough feel for what the 1930s were like. From the very opening jail break sequence to every single fedora/trenchcoat combo, the film bleeds of the near black and white-esque color saturation,along with bursting with color during every exchange between Depp and Bale. This jessie bleeds style. One thing at times I didn’t care for was Mann’s decision to side with a much shakier, albeit more engrossing, style of filming the frantic action. This gave me more of a grittier realistic feel of the very brave and very brutal violence, but kinda left me a little queasy. Every gunshot in the film isn’t thrown around, these shots deliver a blow, a very real hit, and the impact can be felt and seen in what could be very gory results. One aspect of the movie I did find more interesting at times was the morality play, whether or not it was intended, that Mann chose to offer. While the tone may be close to black and white, the protagonist/antagonist angle is far from. While it may seem very clear at first who’s good and who’s bad at the very beginning of the film, thanks to Purvis’ intense thirst for justice to be regained and Dillinger’s nice-guy charm and sleek motives/style that come with his acts of violence, the line quickly becomes blurred, and can be seen either way of who’s in the right and who’s in the wrong. Those who you expect to be good end up with a darker side, and vice versa. This aspect is a nice side note, an extra feature if you will, to what ultimately becomes a very long spanning crime/gangster epic. Believe me when I say “long spanning”. The movie hits a 2 1/2 hour time span, which you will feel by the final confrontation outside Dillinger’s Favorite Theater. However, just like any other epic, Public Enemies benefits from the extra time and uses it wisely to hardly ever bore the audience, and keep up with a non-stop story of one of America’s best criminals. The style is spot-on, the atmosphere is pitch perfect, the performances are mesmerizing, the action is always ruthless, and the entire package comes together in quite possibly the best movie I’ve seen all summer, despite some minor quabbles. So go now and see what there is to fear in our Public Enemies.

5 out of 5


  1. Matt Gorden said,

    I loved this movie, from begining to end it had me 100%. I enjoyed Johnny’s performance and really felt for the bank robbin and killin guy he was portraying. He made you see his side of it, his love for the girl and why he was breaking the law.

  2. earlman27 said,


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