Public Enemies - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Public Enemies Reviews

Top Critic
Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
July 6, 2009
I do think this is a film worth seeing, so obviously, I say see it.
Top Critic
Ben Lyons
At the Movies
July 6, 2009
Some strong performances, but I expected more from this great director and stellar cast.
Top Critic
Christopher Orr
The New Republic
July 3, 2009
If John Dillinger had not existed... Michael Mann would have had to invent him.
Top Critic
Trevor Johnston
Time Out
July 3, 2009
It's a fascinating moment in history, and Mann captures the cars, the guns and the buildings with painstaking, immersive authenticity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Scott Von Doviak
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
July 3, 2009
Even the bank jobs and prison breaks feel perfunctory and enervated.
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
July 3, 2009
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.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Amy Nicholson
I.E. Weekly
July 2, 2009
It's flat and direct, and when a line or two slips out that sounds like it wants to elevate Dillinger's life into a grand theme, it's quickly hammered down.
Full Review | Original Score: C
Top Critic
Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
July 2, 2009
Our connections with Public Enemies remain abstract. The darkness and the distance kill the fun.
Top Critic
Kathleen Murphy
MSN Movies
July 2, 2009
... as strange and exhilarating as riding the running board of John Dillinger's fast, shiny, black getaway car.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
July 2, 2009
The best rejoinder to Public Enemies is Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal video... It's a tommy-gun gangster fantasia with a touch of Guys and Dolls, and it's everything Public Enemies isn't.
Top Critic
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
July 2, 2009
Mann excels at staging the chaotic bank jobs and bloody shootouts that were just a day at the office for Dillinger, but even at 140 minutes the movie is so dense with incident that there isn't much room for cultural comment or character development.
Top Critic
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
July 1, 2009
The underconceived Public Enemies suffers from that lack of drive, though Johnny Depp is so urgent and charismatic as John Dillinger, he provides enough firepower to make the film legit.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
Top Critic
Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
July 1, 2009
It fits neatly on the shelf with Bonnie and Clyde and The Godfather.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
July 1, 2009
Although Public Enemies does not ascend to the heights of Bonnie and Clyde or The Untouchables, it is nevertheless an effective depiction of the final months of the life of one of the United States' most infamous criminals.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
July 1, 2009
With Public Enemies, he has made an impressive film of great formal skill, one that inescapably has a brooding dark-night-of-the-soul quality about it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
July 1, 2009
Director Michael Mann has taken the story of John Dillinger, and has made from it a drama full of dread and atmosphere, a 140-minute film that in no way seems long, that's a succession of compelling scenes, with no dead wood.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
July 1, 2009
More interesting than involving, Public Enemies focuses on history at the expense of the characters that lived that history. It's all story without emotional impact.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Dana Stevens
Slate
July 1, 2009
It's like spending an afternoon -- a long one -- at a beautifully lit wax-museum display inspired by earlier gangster movies.
Top Critic
Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post
July 1, 2009
Public Enemies is as elegant and muscular a film as one could hope for in a summer of flash and noise. Which is not to say director Michael Mann's gangster saga lacks flash and simmer.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Calvin Wilson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
July 1, 2009
As sophisticated as it is entertaining, Public Enemies isn't the sort of film that's usually associated with the summer. But it has more than enough firepower to be a blockbuster.
Top Critic
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
July 1, 2009
With its measured, team-produced screenplay by Mann, Ronan Bennett, and Ann Biderman, Public Enemies makes heavy business of the notion that Hoover ushered in an era of ethically elastic law-enforcement procedures still recognizable today.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
Top Critic
Tom Maurstad
Dallas Morning News
July 1, 2009
Amid the summer season of spectacle and silliness, Public Enemies appears as an oasis of adult entertainment.
| Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Keith Uhlich
Time Out
July 1, 2009
It might sound damning to say that the film resembles a bullet-riddled carcass just barely clinging to life, but it's exactly this ephemeral sensation, which Mann sustains for the entire two hours plus, that distinguishes Public Enemies.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Peter Howell
Toronto Star
July 1, 2009
Mann and co-screenwriters Ronan Bennett and Ann Biderman faithfully adapt the Dillinger portion of Bryan Burrough's absorbing 2004 book by the same name, using the same locations where famous breakouts and shootouts occurred.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
July 1, 2009
Director Michael Mann mounts a technically proficient, visually enthralling crime drama anchored by the low-key but captivating performance of Johnny Depp as legendary bank robber John Dillinger.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Dan Zak
Washington Post
July 1, 2009
Public Enemies, despite packing thunderous rounds of ammunition, is a touch too remote.
Top Critic
Scott Foundas
Village Voice
July 1, 2009
Even when Dillinger is at rest, Public Enemies exudes a nervous tension, the sense that flight is imminent.
Top Critic
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
July 1, 2009
Ultimately an odd blend of frustrating and satisfying.
Top Critic
Laremy Legel
Film.com
July 1, 2009
In the hands of Michael Mann the film looks great, feels deliberate, and effectively explores our culture's fascination with outlaws.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
June 30, 2009
Michael Mann's Public Enemies is a grave and beautiful work of art.
| Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Keith Phipps
AV Club
June 30, 2009
Too much of Public Enemies feels disappointingly smaller than life.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
June 30, 2009
Public Enemies has everything going for it except a reason and a script.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
June 30, 2009
Ultimately, the movie's a bust.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
June 30, 2009
What's strangely missing from this social picture is any image of the economic misery that made Dillinger a folk hero.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
June 30, 2009
All this docudrama grit allows for precious little dramatic juice.
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
June 30, 2009
It's movie dynamite.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
June 30, 2009
Anyone doubting the role "charisma" plays in the movies need look no further than Public Enemies, an old fashioned gangster picture built on simple star power.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Lou Lumenick
New York Post
June 30, 2009
The fatally miscast Johnny Depp's smaller-than-life performance as the famed gangster is the central flaw in Michael Mann's disappointing, curiously uninvolving Public Enemies.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Top Critic
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
June 30, 2009
Michael Mann's extraordinary Public Enemies is an unusual sort of gangster picture, a near-impressionistic recreation of the last year in the life of one of American history's most notorious bank robbers.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
June 30, 2009
A missed opportunity to make gangster picture with flesh-and-blood characters.
Top Critic
Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
June 30, 2009
What's the reason to make this movie, now?
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
June 30, 2009
Something about Dillinger's bloody, summary death has always nagged at the public; Mann is clearly urging today's audiences to draw its own conclusions.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
June 30, 2009
Mann knows exactly how to pace this kind of movie, set to a veritable symphony of gunshots, and Public Enemies feels both wonderfully populated and beautifully controlled.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
June 30, 2009
Here is a film that shrugs off the way we depend on myth to sentimentalize our outlaws.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
June 30, 2009
Public Enemies is a good movie -- sometimes very good -- that could have been a great one.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/5
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
June 30, 2009
It's a fascinating bundle of contradictions--authentic in a million details, deeply romanticized in others. Cool, calm and collected, this is more love story than gangster picture.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Christy Lemire
Associated Press
June 29, 2009
The director shoots Depp in close-ups that accentuate the actor's handsome features -- those warm, brown eyes, sharp cheekbones and soft lips -- and verge on idolatry.
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
June 29, 2009
The movie is emotionally neutered.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Variety
June 25, 2009
Overall impact is muted. Oddly, too, the film is somewhat shortchanged by its great star, Johnny Depp, who disappointingly has chosen to play Dillinger as self-consciously cool rather than earthy and gregarious.
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
June 24, 2009
Thrilling, glamorous, richly textured and breathlessly action-packed, it is one of the best movies of the year.