Jonny Depp, Christian Bale, Tommy Guns, all guided by Michael Mann, the man who bought us Heat and Collateral, what’s not to like? Public Enemies covers the life of John Dillinger, one of Americas most notorious bank robbers.
Public Enemies opens with an Indiana prison escape, starkly lit and as with Michael Mann’s last few films, shot in Digital HD, giving it a slightly unnerving almost documentary effect. Johnny Depp’s Dillinger swiftly frees his gang and begins a crime spree that lands him national attention and elevates him to Robin Hood status among the general public.
The pressure mounts on the American government and police forces as Dillinger and his gang rob banks across state borders, embarrassing the authorities all the while endearing Dillinger to the people. In steps Melvin Pervis (Christian Bale) as an American Lawman and Special Agent of the newly formed FBI sent to bring him to justice. As all this is happening Dillinger falls for coat check girl Billie Frechette while the Feds are closing in.
The movie on paper sounds like an instant classic, especially with two actors the stature of Depp and Bale. Just seeing these guys on screen with each other should be electric; but it never gets to that point. The characterization of Dillinger and Pervis sometimes seems to change to suit the movie, and then flicks back when it strays too far. Don’t expect exact historical accuracy either, dates and deaths have been changed to suit the movie, and you can’t help but feel Dillinger comes off slightly better than he would have in real life.
Somewhat similar to Mann’s remake of Miami Vice, it looks good, has moments of greatness, super solid actors, and we can’t forget the Tommy Guns, but it doesn’t manage to bring it together cohesively enough to take it to the next level. Still a good watch for Bale & Depp fans and for anyone in need of a boys night out.
Reviewed by: Asher Bastion
Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Channing Tatum, David Wenham
Directed by: Michael Mann
Genre: Thriller, Historical, Crime, Adaptation
Duration: 2hr 22mins
Rating: [R16] contains violence