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Public Enemies (2009)



Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 263
Fresh: 178 | Rotten: 85

Michael Mann's latest is a competent and technically impressive gangster flick with charismatic lead performances, but some may find the film lacks truly compelling drama.


Average Rating: 6.1/10
Critic Reviews: 49
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 18

Michael Mann's latest is a competent and technically impressive gangster flick with charismatic lead performances, but some may find the film lacks truly compelling drama.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 632,107

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on author Bryan Burrough's ambitious tome Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-43, director Michael Mann's sprawling historical crime drama follows the efforts of top FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale ) in capturing notorious bank robber John Dillinger. A folk hero to the American public thanks to his penchant for robbing the banks that many people believed responsible for the Great Depression, charming bandit Dillinger (Johnny Depp) was


Drama, Action & Adventure

Ronan Bennett, Michael Mann, Ann Biderman

Dec 8, 2009


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Latest News on Public Enemies

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All Critics (263) | Top Critics (49) | Fresh (178) | Rotten (85) | DVD (9)

I do think this is a film worth seeing, so obviously, I say see it.

July 6, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies | Comment (1)
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some strong performances, but I expected more from this great director and stellar cast.

July 6, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies | Comment (1)
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If John Dillinger had not existed... Michael Mann would have had to invent him.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a fascinating moment in history, and Mann captures the cars, the guns and the buildings with painstaking, immersive authenticity.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comment (1)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Even the bank jobs and prison breaks feel perfunctory and enervated.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ | Comments (7)
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It tills the old ground, albeit with new-style star power and Mann's signature cinematic flourishes. But Depp is unduly subdued and Mann's cape work is oversold.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A quiet, thoughful, almost dreamy meditation on violence, on work, on love and on death. It's The Insider with tommy guns.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

On a sweltering July day in 1934, John Dillinger went to the movies and ended up dead. Now, 75 years later, the movies are killing him again.

May 26, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

It's looking more and more like Michael Mann will never be able to recapture that Heat hotness.

September 29, 2012 Full Review Source:

Instead of glamorizing the early 20th century thug life, it humanizes it a little too much. This drags the movie down and is not the reason I like to go see gangster movies.

July 21, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Adheres to the historical facts of Dillinger's well-documented tapestry of brazen daylight heists, gritty shootouts and improbable jailbreaks.

September 29, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

Burrows deeply into the depths of the Great Depression.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Once Mann is done establishing his characters the film begins to get down to the most interesting element he brings to the project: the saddening decline of a giant.

March 1, 2011 Full Review Source: What Culture
What Culture

... meanders and never delivers the pay-off it promises.

February 1, 2011 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Lawmen and outlaws collide in Mann's stylish, brutal drama.

December 29, 2010 Full Review Source:

If only Mann's obsession with technical perfection extended to drafting screenplays.

October 27, 2010 Full Review Source: Quickflix

Public Enemies is a thoroughly detailed and engaging crime epic, which traces the criminal exploits and pursuit of infamous gangster, John Dillinger.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Mann seems undecided about what he wants Enemies to accomplish, so he tries a little bit of everything.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Public Enemies is an enjoyable experience but it feels like it could have been a whole lot more and another gangster classic.

April 15, 2010 Full Review Source: Fan The Fire
Fan The Fire

A lesson in how watching a man in front of the camera hit his mark can make one wish the man behind the camera had such true aim.

December 17, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly | Comments (2)
Orlando Weekly

Feels like experimental filmmaking and never seems to transcend that to something more profound or awe-inspiring.

December 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Depp's performance overcomes every flaw in the film. He ends up playing Dillinger exactly as he should be--suave, mysterious, romantic, but with obvious elements of cruelty and unbridled violence.

December 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Bangor Daily News (Maine)
Bangor Daily News (Maine)

Not to say this is not a well-crafted movie with excellent performances. It is. It is also curiously one-sided and shallow like many movies about famous outlaws tend to be.

November 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Michael Mann, director of Public Enemies has capped an extremely impressive decade of work with a movie that approaches greatness but just misses.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Times
Washington Times

An experimental film masked as a studio blockbuster

August 25, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion | Comment (1)

The popular reaction to what the defiant anti-hero came to represent in depression-era America made it almost criminal to call him one.

August 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

Audience Reviews for Public Enemies

Public Enemies is the story of infamous depression era bank robber John Dillinger who became a kind of mythic Robin Hood style figure in the eyes of the poverty stricken American public of the time. Johnny Depp and Christian Bale starring in a legendary true-life gangster story directed by the man who brought us Heat? Nothing could possibly go wrong, could it?? Errrrm...evidently, yes it could. Once again, as always seems to be the case with over-hyped Hollywood blockbusters, the script is the usual suspect when assigning blame for missed opportunities. We all know what Depp and Bale are capable of, but here they have so little to work with its difficult for me to find fault with them. The film is basically just a series of beautifully shot shoot outs and jail breaks loosely strung together by a skeletal plot involving next to no character depth or development. We know nothing about their motives or how they reached this point in their lives and seem to have no meaningful relationships with any of the supporting characters. The visual side of things cannot really be faulted however and the set pieces are expertly handled by Mann, but the shadow of the infinitely superior Heat looms over the entire proceedings. 10/10 for style, but 5/10 for substance.
July 30, 2013
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Nice to finally see Johnny Depp not in a weird/cooky role. The film had a lot of action and a great story even though it was pretty lengthy. The fact that it's based on real people and events makes it all the better.
December 1, 2012
Eric Alvarez

Super Reviewer

Solid direction by Mann and a great performance from Depp, towards the end it really gets good.
November 24, 2012
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

    1. John Dillinger: My ass.
    – Submitted by Johann L (20 months ago)
    1. John Dillinger: We're having too good a time today. We ain't thinking about tomorrow.
    – Submitted by Michael R (22 months ago)
    1. John Dillinger: Bye-bye, blackbird.
    – Submitted by Josie G (2 years ago)
    1. John Dillinger: [nodding at money left by a bank teller in front of his booth] You can put it away. Not here for your money. Here for the bank's money.
    – Submitted by Josie G (2 years ago)
    1. John Dillinger: [approaching group of police officers] What's the score?
    – Submitted by Josie G (2 years ago)
    1. John Dillinger: You act like a confident man, Mr. Purvis. Ya got a few qualities. Probly pretty good from a distance, especially when ya got the fella out-numbered. But up-close, toe-to-toe, when somebody's about to die right here, right now... I'm used to that.
    – Submitted by Kevin M (3 years ago)
View all quotes (11)

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Foreign Titles

  • Public Enemies: Bootleggers and Beer Barons of the Prohibition Era (UK)
  • Public Enemies: Bootleggers and Beer Barons of the Prohibition Era (CA)
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