As I look through the choices of movies that are coming out this summer of 2009, Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale and Marion Cotillard seemed like a must see film by Michael Mann that will turn into an instant classic. I was partially correct on that thought.
The American film is about a man named John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) who during the Great Depression creates a gang to steal money and rob banks to live the good life. Through his life John Dillinger meets a dashing woman that catches his eye, Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard) Meanwhile to begin the war on crime, FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale) is set on the job of putting the Number One Public Enemy and the rest of the Public Enemies back into justice's hands.
The film picks off in 1933 observing jail men walking in a line chained to each other across the jail field. Then they are used to work on sewing machines in a work room observed by guards. As some of the jailed men carry some boxes with yarn, there are secretly hidden guns inside the boxes as well. Meanwhile, outside the jail a man ridding a car arrives to the front gate of the jail carrying a hand-cuffed John Dillinger. Inside the cell, the jail men show their guns and point them at the guards urging them to move and take off their clothes so the prisoners can wear them. As Dillinger and a man not yet identified try to get into the jail, his cuffs are broken on purpose and in all it was a plot to help some of Dillinger's friends escape prison. When they meet up inside the jail, they rush out, dodging bullets from guards overhead. Just as everyone is about to escape, a man who is close friends with Dillinger that was in that same prison gets shot down. While the car is in fast speed, the body is clutched to Johnny's hand until it loses all life. A prisoner responsible for the alarm going off in the jail ( he shot off a bullet, killing an officer) and warning other guards to fire and shoot escaped prisoners was inside the car. Dillinger took blame for his friends death and hits his neck assuming he killed the man and opens the car door to leave the corpse on the side of the dirt road.
Now with escape convicts and fellow robbers freed again, Dillinger and his gang can use their artillery and known connections to escape the feds and plot bank robberies in the City of Chicago.
Johnny Depp was incredible in the movie playing a gangster who robbed to live large and live the way he wanted. No boundaries or questioned asked. It was not some character who was just a killer and a thief but as how the director would want you to feel, more of a man you would admire. In all scenes that he was in you would really be intrigued seeing what he was up to and all the things he said and did. When he wasnt in the movie, I basically asked myself "Hey! Where did Johnny go??" because the movie really revolved around his character. From good humor, to charm and slickness (if that is even a word, lol) he had the best attitude of a laid back man that took matters into his own way. Johnny Depp movies are usually always a hit and are never less than your average flick.
Christian Bale playing the FBI detective suited him well because he always has the role of the good guy. Of course the good guy is who you are rooting for, but really not in this movie. From the little lines he had and character development, he did his best. What I most enjoyed was seeing the persistence to capture Dillinger that made the character seem dark or quite mad, like the Captain Ahab of Moby Dick. Eventually though, at the end you see Bale's character still eager to capture the Public Enemy Number one but he didnt take as drastic measures as before.
Marion Cotillard playing a girlfriend and love interest of the main character was a great role for her. She had her attitude, she showed her affection for him, everything. It seemed as though they did care for each other and in one particular scene that her acting left me astounded was when one large fat man of the force was interrogating her asking where was Dillinger. She would not say, and he would abuse her physically. It would then continue on again, until finally Bale's character arrived and put a stop to it. The woman could not get up from the chair, and as an audience viewer, i somehow could not get up from my chair as well. It was as real as that scene could get and its impact hit me hard.
The directing was really interesting because the camera views and angles made the whole film seem real. In every shooting scene and car chase, it looked like no graphics were needed and everything was captured as it was happening.
The graphics of the movie are fairly well done. There is not many scenes that need graphics and visual effects because it is not needed for a movie of this genre. The last scene in the film that Johnny Depp's character is in could have used more advanced effect but either way it worked well accordingly.
Although i have been praising this movie in this review, it has its flaws. The movie sometimes in the middle can give a bit of a yawn because now and then it gets too slow paced and things should have picked up better. Still, i would rather enjoy a slow paced movie that something that was quickly put together from snip bits and its called a film. Also the movie does not have a true backbone. It just tells the story of a man who robs banks and gets in and out of jail and then ends up...well i wont tell you. There is not a huge complex story to tell, but it leaves you satisfied that it was well done and fairly accurate. Of course not all of it could have been accurate because not much information could have been received from the time of the 1930s and to make a film better they sometimes add or take things out to fit together perfect for film.
Overall I gave it four stars because i did not think three stars or three point five stars would be enough to rate this movie. Some would say it sounds like a great DVD rental, but you should see this film and give it a chance because it has the unique ability to create a well made gangster drama unlike most other films these days. Also i am glad its not a remake. Usually all you see now-a-days are movies remade, rebooted, or is just an unworthy sequel to a classic.
Hope you enjoyed my review.