From visionary director Michael Mann (Heat, Collateral) comes the film inspired by one of the country’s most captivating and infamous outlaws – John Dillinger. Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean series) stars as the charismatic and elusive bank robber marked by the FBI as America’s “Public Enemy Number One” Academy Award winner Marion Catoillard (La Vie en Rose) plays Billie Frechette, the only woman capable of capturing his heart. Hunted relentlessly by top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale, The Dark Knight), Dillinger engages in an escalating game of cat and mouse that culminates in an explosive legendary showdown.
In the East, nobody does mixture of gunplay
and tortured male personalities as well as John Woo. In the
West we have Michael Mann, the man for the past who brought
us De Niro/Pacino’s Heat, Crowe/Pacino’s Inside
Man and Cruise/Foxx’s Collateral, all acclaimed dramas
featuring the best of today’s Hollywood male stars.
the dismal "Miami Vice", Mann is back with his own
take on the Bryan Burrough's non-fiction book Public Enemies:
America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI. A
simple yet engaging story of one of America’s greatest
bank robber, John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and Melvin Purvis
(Christian Bale), the FBI agent sent by then director of FBI,
J. Edgar Hoover to pursue him.
not 100% historically accurate as cited by the author himself,
Mann throws in great production details and strong performances
from our two male protagonists. Depp gave another mesmerizing
onscreen performance as Dillinger, a man who is loyal to his
friends, a die-hard romantic and persistent in his goals (though
not a good thing of course to go on frequent robbery sprees).
Known for his compulsive method acting, Bale has to resort
to playing second-fiddle to Depp’s Dillinger in "Public
Enemies" given more than half of the storyline is devoted
to Dillinger with a minor portion to dozens many other supporting
characters such as J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup), Baby Face
Nelson (Stephen Graham), Homer Van Meter (Stephen Dorff) and
Alvin Karpis (Giovanni Ribsi). Bale has lesser opportunity
to shine here as compared to Depp though his character deserved
more screentime. Not forgetting Marion Cotillard as Billie
Frechette, Dillinger's longtime girlfriend. A character that
is significantly important to Dillinger as portrayed in the
movie though unfortunately she was not by his side when he
was gunned down outside a theatre.
much of the movie is based on actual historical facts? Or
should I say how much of it is thwarted by Hollywood’s
creative license? Depending on which angle you are looking
at, the purists might find Mann’s treatment too much
to bear given many occurrences and dates have been drastically
altered to suit the filmmakers’ needs. From an audience’s
point of view, "Public Enemies" remains an engaging
crime thriller on the whole though the few shootouts and showdown
between Dillinger and Purvis lacked the intensity of De Niro
and Pacino in "Heat".
a movie that is set during the great depression, Mann’s
choice of shooting the movie in HD format rather than traditional
35mm film is questionable. "Public Enemies" is the
perfect film noir material however with HD, it took away the
cinematic magic and certain scenes stood out remarkably as
studio backlots and plain set dressing. HD works perfectly
in Mann’s "Collateral" and "Miami Vice"
but it’s just wrong here.
Enemies" has its obvious share of flaws, one with glaring
mistreatment of the actual characters and story development
to a point that it sacrificed its believability. At the end
of the day Mann compensate by giving us a worthy treat, one
with impressive gunfights (unfortunately few and far) compiled
with fine acting from the cast.
Code 3 DVD only contains Feature Commentary with Director
Michael Mann. Mann is not exactly an enthusiastic
speaker though he did provides insight on the research done
prior to shooting and information on the various figures featured
in the movie. Expect a certain amount of dead air in-between.
mentioned in the DVD review, the period look of 1930’s
America seems slightly out of place with the HD treatment
despite fine details and colouring. The Dolby Digital 5.1
mix is strong with occasional outbursts from Tommy guns and
shattering glass effects. Overall, dialogue is clean and "Public
Enemies" is surprisingly not a 'loud' movie as perceived.
Review by Linus Tee
on 18 December 2009