Public Enemies - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Public Enemies Reviews

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June 18, 2016
"Public Enemies" stands as a run-of-the-mill gangster drama with fine performances, though its poor craft and a standard, uncompelling story is ill fitting of the fascinating historical figure at its center.
½ January 25, 2010
100125: Now that's my kind of film. Lots of shoot outs and other action. Bad ass gangsters vs sometimes even badder ass cops. Cool Tommy Guns with endless magazines and 45s a plenty. Wonder if it was really anything like this? Fun watch.
February 20, 2016
Grade: B-
Rating: 7.0/10
½ July 23, 2009
Epic gangster movie that follows the legend of John Dillinger, with a charismatic performance from Johnny Depp. Some aspects of the story are historically inaccurate and overly romanticised, well that's Hollywood for you. A slow-burner but the final shoot-out is breathtaking.
August 10, 2015
Loosely based on Byran Burrough's book "Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI" Michael Mann's punchy and intense adaptation is a fascinating and sticking retrospective into the life and times of the depression era's most notorious outlaw.

John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) is a prison escapee and charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids and Robin Hood style values made him a folk hero too much of the 1930's downtrodden public.

With the cocky belief that everyone else exists exclusively because he does, Dillinger becomes the centre of gravity. However, through all his Bravado the always in control Dillinger falls obsessively in love for a half French/half Indian but completely naive cloak checker Evelyn "Billie" Frechette (Marion Cotillard).

Although Dillinger's initial demands for Billie's affections are rebuffed, his alluring pull and charming declaration of "I like baseball, movies, good clothes, whiskey, fast cars... and you. What else you need to know?" eventually makes Billie his.

The pair and Dillinger's gang safely continue their escapades due to the polite protection of hostages and values to only steal the banks money aid in the public at larges' willingness to provide asylum and hinders the police's effort

When the gang's exuberant state line crossing exploits escalate them to the status of cult legends, Dillinger quickly becomes the prime target for the fledgling Bureau of Investigation headed by J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) and its top agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale).

The inclusion of sociopathic and unpredictable Baby Face Nelson (Stephen Graham) makes Hoover's highly administrative driven bureau desperate for their apprehension. Hoover devises a plan to recruit real strong arm gun-slinging lawmen from Arizona under the guise of aiding their efforts in the pursuit to elevate the bureau into a national police force leading to the birth of the FBI.

Director Michael Mann's faithful recreation of the 1930's settings is fraught by his obsession with digital camerawork. Unlike celluloid, HD video isn't flattering or forgiving, and the abundance of superfluous details captured shows every physical and cinematic flaw.

Mann's passion and preoccupation for surface texture whilst utilising handheld cameras cerebrally over stimulates viewers. The headache of 'Shaking camera syndrome' and need to explore the 'gritty look' ultimately detracts not enhances the images which seem lost in translation in relation to the era of the piece.

Dillinger's self-created folk hero status is effortlessly recreated by Depp's graceful, cheeky and in-love-with-his-own-legend portrayal. Depp's understated and undeniable magnetism carries Christian Bales somewhat less wooden but still one-dimensional Wile E. Coyote-eskque chilling pursuer Melvin Pervis.

One of Mann's main flaws is his apparent disregard for the need of character background and exploration. Although his painstakingly thorough research for visual integrity is admirable and shooting on location at the original site of the Little Bohemia Lodge and the Crown Point jail is wonderfully authentic, his attention to the human side leaves the film lacking that true emotional connection.

Mann is highly particular about presenting particular relationship styles. Dillinger and Billie are a 'him' and 'her' not a 'them', they are never portrayed as a couple and the story is centralised around their need for each other not their love for each other. For her vulnerability she needs protection and to receive affirmation of his invincibility he needs to protect. The actors portray this tone perfectly, however to the viewer it seem a little hollow.

From the onset it looked as thought it was going to be an ensemble supporting cast including Stephen Dorff, Channing Tatum, David Wenham as well as a brief cameo from Clarke Gable (clipped from Manhattan Melodrama). Sadly however, Depp and Bale have no connection and their onscreen hero and villain personas share very little screen time.

One great scene that due to its content must be one of those fictional Hollywood gems finds Dillinger casually strolling into the Bureau's half empty Anti-Dillinger office and brazenly wonders around looking at pinned up photo's and documents about his fallen and apprehended gang members, he even has the galls to ask a cop who just won the baseball game on the radio.

Verdict: For all his research efforts, Mann's most recent time piece lacks both visual and historical cohesion. This film is carried squarely on the back of its actors and its time frame, however with that in mind, it works. The overconfident swaggering Dillinger takes audiences hostage and commands complete attention and with Depp holding the gun, I'm in.

Published: The Queanbeyan Age
Date of Publication: 07/08/2009
½ February 9, 2016
Great gangster movie and such a great cast as well. It did however leave me wanting more throughout the movie. It did get slightly dull here and there, but the violence and action kept me entertained. John Dillinger was greatly portrayed.
December 31, 2015
Nothing much to right about - more along the lines of other bios of the Great Depression era. The dull, slow moving, lethargically paced story is not helped by the equally dull and insipid dialogues. Not even Bale and Depp could help the uninspiring direction.
Ok, if nothing better to do.
December 28, 2015
Above average acting for a below average movie. Depp gives a decent performance along with Bale and a smattering of others but the story line just doesn't slow down to let you catch up
½ October 25, 2009
quality stuff, but not really engaging
½ December 9, 2015
Mixed with action and suspense Public Enemies is a good movie that had the potential to be great. Two of the biggest names in acting square off in a cops and robbers tale about the most famous bank robber in American History certainly sounds like a concept that would blow me away. Despite its flaws I still did enjoy the Michael Mann directed film. Mann's penchant for authentic gun battles is another major draw to this film. I don't know what he uses for sound during his action scenes but his gun battles always sound so authentic, and it is once against fantastic in Public Enemies. Bale and Depp both shine in their roles as I knew they would. So why did I not give this movie another star or half a star ? Well there are some sequences throughout the movie that are brutally slow and long winded. I understand the reasoning for it, but I felt they spent way too much time on Dillinger's relationship with his girl played by Marion Cottilard. I wanted a movie about Dillinger and his gang of bank robbers, for me personally anyway, I did not need a love story thrown in there as well. Sure, they could have spent a little time on it, but I just thought it was overly focused on. Other than that, this is a good action flick and I would recommend it to any action fan or fans of crime films.
Super Reviewer
½ March 3, 2009
I think that enough time has passed for us to recognize that Mann's use of digital here wasn't the huge mistake everyone (including myself) thought it was back in 2009, but rather a highly influential decision that predicted how most of us would consume imagery. On top of that, the film features Mann's typically rich use of archetypal cop and criminal characters. I think Depp was born to play Dillinger.
½ April 30, 2009
I was quite disappointed in this film. While visually stylish and some good acting moments, the script lacked and the whole feel of the film lacked charisma to get you to care for these characters.
½ July 4, 2012
Decent movie really entertaining although the overall acting was almost unemotional especially from Johnny depps John dillinger.
October 15, 2015
June 2, 2009
Stylish crime drama.
½ October 2, 2015
With engaging and thrilling direction from Mann, mesmerizing performances, and intriguing and revealing writing--Public Enemies is excellent.
September 22, 2015
Solid film. It doesn't have to be 100% historically accurate. Viewers get lost in the words true story rather than BASED on a true story. Another performance in a long line of solid performances by Depp.
February 21, 2014
This was a kinda long, drawn out story of infamous bank rober John Dilinger. It was better than I expected it to be, with a great story and is a overall good movie. But it was severely let down by some poorly done action scenes, and a cheap feel. The action scenes are for the most part goof with good sounds effects and bullet impacts. The cabin shootout was the low point of the action, as I guess the movie, the sound effects seemed more dull, the muzzle flashes exaggerated in the darkness, haut didn't look the same as the rest. The cheap feel comes from the shacky, unsteady camera, and the unedited picture. Its something we don't like to see, but every so often we get. It did have a good old feel, with everything fitting in for the time, with the nice old cars, clothing and buildings. So I wasn't a fan of those scenes but as a whole the movie was really good with some good preformances from the actors.
½ July 5, 2009
The story could have been interesting and it had some very good acting, but a few very awkward action scenes with people just pointlessly firing guns at one another that leads to nothing, or everyone on screen dying, it was just weird. Christian Bale was at least tolerable (to me he usually isn't), but tolerable isn't enough to carry a film. Johnny Depp was very effective though as the main bad man John Dillinger. Way too long and not really interesting enough.
½ March 20, 2015
This Michael Mann's work has a good representation of "mafia" and dark ambience that will please everyone, but despite its good thrills and his pertinent theme, it has a lot of impossibilities and scenes that will make the spectator ask himself, how is that possible? So this movie falls into a bad screenplay and we can't despise its disorganized plot that with the help of an exaggerated duration can confuse who see this movie.
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